Cells at the Melbourne Remand Centre, where prisoners are processed.
Cells at the Melbourne Remand Centre, where prisoners are processed.

What prison life will be like for Pell

A strip-search, prison jumpsuit and a likely stint in isolation will complete a stunning fall from grace for Cardinal George Pell when he spends his first night in jail.

He remains on bail today but it has already been foreshadowed by the trial judge that Pell will be remanded in custody - perhaps as soon as tomorrow - as he awaits his sentencing hearing.

Victorian County Court chief judge Peter Kidd has made it clear that jail would be the only acceptable punishment for Pell's crimes.

Today his own lawyers conceded that was the only sentence open to the judge.

The gardens inside the prison in central Melbourne where Pell will be sent when first remanded in custody.
The gardens inside the prison in central Melbourne where Pell will be sent when first remanded in custody.

The chief judge had wanted to remand Pell in custody immediately after he was found guilty in December.

But he granted further bail to allow him to undergo a double knee replacement surgery over Christmas, an operation which had been booked in for some time.

For much of his retrial Pell could barely walked, used a crutch, and had a heat pack on standby to dull the pain.

There will be little such comforts for Pell in prison.

Where he will spend the majority of his time is unclear, but as a new prisoner he must be first received at the Melbourne Assessment Prison in Spencer St.

It caters for more than 300 prisoners.

There he will be stripsearched, subject to a physically invasive examination, and put in a jumpsuit.

Because of his high-profile, prison sources say he will likely be placed in isolation.

Time in isolation would involve a 23-hour a day lockdown to protect him from other inmates.

His cell, designed to be suicide-proof, would be marked with an X so he cannot be identified.

From his cell he would likely walk the same route daily, under guard, to a small isolated high-walled yard topped with razor wire, for an hour's exercise.

Prison accommodation is a far cry from that on offer in Rome.
Prison accommodation is a far cry from that on offer in Rome.

RISE AND FALL OF A CARDINAL

His cash flow would be reduced to $140 a month, to spend at the canteen and on monitored phone calls.

He would be expected to buy his own shampoo, soap, tea and coffee.

While it may one day become home, for the uninitiated the MAP is by all accounts a very intimidating environment.

He will be allowed limited visitors and a select number of people on a call list.

Some priests have expressed concern about visiting Pell.

Others say they will do so despite fears they will forever be tarnished because of their support for him.

Pell's support for notorious paedophile Gerald Ridsdale has plagued his career.

If visited, he would be subjected to strip searches before and after each visit.

The old housemates, who lived together in Ballarat in the 1970s, could again meet face-to-face if Pell is moved to a minimum security protection jail.

Langi Kal Kal's inmates are almost all sex offenders, including Ridsdale.

Inside a room at the $30m Domus Australia guesthouse in Rome, the base there of the Catholic Diocese of Sydney.
Inside a room at the $30m Domus Australia guesthouse in Rome, the base there of the Catholic Diocese of Sydney.

 

Inmates live together with other low-risk offenders, and share a pool, a tennis court and better food than high-security jails.

They also share a communal kitchen, where they are required to cook for themselves, a living room, bathrooms and laundry.

10 THINGS PELL HOPED WOULD CLEAR HIM

Prison sources say it is likely Pell could spend time at Port Phillip Prison, where he could be close to medical facilities.

"Because of his age, and health, that would make sense, but it's anyone's guess at the moment," one prison guard said.

 

shannon.deery@news.com.au

One of the cells at the Melbourne Assessment Prison.
One of the cells at the Melbourne Assessment Prison.
First likely stop is Melbourne Assessment Prison in West Melbourne. Picture: Andrew Henshaw
First likely stop is Melbourne Assessment Prison in West Melbourne. Picture: Andrew Henshaw
Excerise space at the prison.
Excerise space at the prison.
Domus Australia, a guesthouse in central Rome where Cardinal Pell and other catholic priests can stay when in Rome. Picture: Ella Pellegrini
Domus Australia, a guesthouse in central Rome where Cardinal Pell and other catholic priests can stay when in Rome. Picture: Ella Pellegrini
The rooftop space at the guesthouse for visiting cardinals. Picture: Pellegrini Ella
The rooftop space at the guesthouse for visiting cardinals. Picture: Pellegrini Ella


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