What Bill Cosby faces in prison for his sexual assault

Convicted sex offender Bill Cosby faces a tough time behind bars after finally facing justice for his sexual assaults.

The former comedian was sentenced to between three and 10 years on Wednesday (NZ time) for drugging and sexually assaulting his one-time friend Andrea Constand.

He now leaves behind a privileged life of private jets for prison time with the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections. His first stop is likely the maximum-security State Correctional Institution - Phoenix.

Once Cosby arrives behind bars, he will face an "incarceration reception process" to determine his healthcare and psychological treatment needs, his security level, and to which of 22 male prisons he will be sent.

Cosby's prosecutor, Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele, said after this Cosby could be sent to Laurel Highlands, a state prison for lower-risk inmates which serves inmates with special needs. It comes with separate housing units for geriatric prisoners and programmes for sex offenders.

If the Department decides Cosby is at risk because of his celebrity or behaviour, he will be held in solitary confinement. Otherwise, he'll likely have to share a two-person cell.

The Pennsylvania Department of Corrections.
The Pennsylvania Department of Corrections. Photo credit: Google Maps

He will be one of just 83 inmates in the Pennsylvania corrections system aged 80 or older, and one of very few who are legally blind, according to a department spokeswoman, Susan McNaughton.

Such prisoners are typically assigned a sighted inmate, who is paid just 19 to 42 US cents an hour, to assist them and lead them through the facility.

"Certainly Mr Cosby would be fine," she said.

"Of course they (the inmate assistants) are screened, and there is a lot of monitoring and supervision."

Cosby has continued to proclaim his innocence and compared his imprisonment to Nelson Mandela's. Mr Mandela spent 27 years in captivity for his fight against apartheid.

"I think back to the time when Camille and I went to visit Nelson Mandela in South Africa," Cosby told the New York Post's Page Six after he was found guilty in April.

"He was a free man, but I remember when we met him at Robben Island where he had been in a prison for all of those years. I sat in that cell where he lived, and I saw how he lived... what he had to eat to live and what he went through.

"So, if they send me to that place, then that's what they will do, and I will have to go there."

TMZ reports that Cosby's first meal behind bars will include vanilla pudding, an ironic choice given the actor used to be the spokesman for Jell-O. 

Reuters / Newshub.