What life in prison will be like for Harvey Weinstein

In early March 2020, Harvey Weinstein was finally sentenced to 23 years in prison. As Nicki Swift previously reported, Weinstein was found guilty in February 2020 of third-degree rape and first-degree criminal sex act after six women testified against him in open court, accusing him of crimes ranging from sexual assault to rape. This marked the end of a landmark case, which started all the way back in 2015 when authorities first investigated the producer after a string of public complaints.

Weinstein’s case was largely seen as a trigger for the global #MeToo movement, which encouraged women to speak out against sexual abuse. According to CNN, the producer addressed his accusers prior to the verdict, which was an “unexpected” move for a defendant planning an appeal. “I really feel remorse for this situation,” Weinstein said, adding, “I feel it deeply in my heart. I will spend my time really caring and really trying to be a better person.” 

Judge James Burke ultimately handed the producer “20 years in prison for first-degree criminal sexual act” and three years for “third-degree rape” to be served consecutively. Upon his release, Weinstein will also have “five years of supervision” and “must register as a sex offender.” This was a worst case scenario for Weinstein, who the The New York Times claims was “terrified” to go behind barsbut what will prison really be like for the disgraced producer?

Harvey Weinstein is already 'miserable' at Rikers

Before Harvey Weinstein was sentenced to 23 years in prison, the former movie mogul was being held in a prison ward at Bellevue Hospital after complaining of chest pains. According to the The New York Times, he was ultimately sent to Rikers Island — and is currently listed as inmate No. 3102000153 — but he wasn’t expected to be mixed in with the general population. At the time, his lawyers requested that the star be housed in a special medical facility, which is pretty common for celebrities, transgender people and victims of sexual abuse. Even Bill Cosby got a private cell, at first.

Rikers’ medical unit might not be like the five star hotels Weinstein is used to, but it could have been pretty plush for a criminal. At best, he could’ve ended up with a double-size cell to himself with a television, phone, and private shower and bathroom. “It’s like a little hotel, like your own little apartment,” a former official told the New York Times. “You have everything you need. It’s very isolated. It’s a way to guarantee his safety.”

Unfortunately, that’s not how it played out for the producer. According to Page Six, Weinstein had two “older gentlemen” as cellmates at Rikers Island’s North Infirmary Command. He was reportedly “miserable but trying to be optimistic” after taking a bad fall and complaining of a subsequent head injury in early March. 

A prison consultant is helping Harvey Weinstein with his transition to inmate

Prison consultants are like the hottest new addition to celebrity entourages. Next to publicists and personal assistants, it seems like every celeb facing problems with law has one. In January, Fuller House’s Lori Loughlin reportedly hired a prison consultant to help her prepare for possible incarceration following her involvement in the college admissions scandal. In March, The New York Times reported that Harvey Weinstein had followed suit. 

According to the report, Weinstein’s entourage already included “four lawyers, a jury selection expert, a crisis manager, and spokesperson,” as well as someone who “made sure his court-ordered ankle monitor was functioning correctly.” That’s before he hired Craig Rothfeld, a professional prison consultant who works for the private firm, Inside Outside Ltd. Rates for such a thing, according to The Times, are more than “what the average accountant charges to prepare a yearly tax return, but less than the retainer a white-shoe lawyer charges.”

Though Weinstein hadn’t been shipped off to prison at the time of his hiring, Rothfeld claimed the Hollywood heavyweight’s stay at Bellevue Hospital was still a challenge. “He’s in the hospital, but he’s still in a prison cell — a regular cell, with a toilet open for the world to see,” Rothfeld told the New York Times. Rothfeld revealed their conversations were focused on mentally preparing the producer to get his head shaved and wear handcuffs, but he also “counseled” the former producer’s family.

He's starting his sentence at Downstate

At the time of this writing, Harvey Weinstein has yet to be transferred to his assigned prison upstate. According to the The New York Times, the shamed former producer will be taken “to a reception area at the Downstate Correctional Facility” (a prison about 75 miles north of Fishkill, N.Y.) before being transferred to an upstate prison where he’ll serve out his sentence. Weinstein has requested to be sent to a facility near New York City that has a large Jewish population, but it’s not yet clear if his request will be granted.

Despite his celeb status, Vulture reports that Weinstein will be treated like the other male inmates when he arrives at Downstate. This includes having a shave, a haircut, and a dental and physical exam. He’ll be given “state-issued clothing,” “personal-care products,” and an “inmate rulebook.” This also includes an informational pamphlet called The Prevention of Sexual Abuse in Prison; What Inmates Need to Know. 

Weinstein may have a keen eye for Oscar-winning films (at least before he was kicked out of the Academy) but we’re guessing the prison orientation video he’ll be forced to watch is nothing of the sort. According to Vulture, the film will teach him about “communicable diseases, suicide prevention, and sexual abuse.” He’ll also watch a gender-specific version of the flick Ending Sexual Abuse Behind the Walls; An Orientation. The outlet also reported that prison officials will “determine whether Weinstein is at risk from other inmates.” 

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