Jared Fogle attacked by fellow inmate. Are famous inmates always at risk?

High-profile inmates frequently end up in solitary confinement as a result of their fame rather than any misbehavior in prison.

Michael Conroy/AP/File
Former Subway pitchman Jared Fogle arrives at the federal courthouse in Indianapolis, Nov. 19. Mr. Fogle pleaded guilty to charges relating to child pornography and crossing state lines to engage in sex with a minor.

Former Subway spokesman Jared Fogle, who is currently serving a 15-year sentence for child pornography and illicit paid sex with minors, was beat up in a prison brawl, reports TMZ. 

Mr. Fogle was attacked by fellow inmate Steven Nigg, who is in custody on a weapons charge in late January. The ex-spokesman suffered minor injuries such as cuts and a bloody nose and Mr. Nigg has since been placed in solitary confinement. 

Violence and brutality is a problem throughout the US prison system, but correctional administrators have an especially difficult time keeping high-profile prisoners safe. 

“Regardless of any positive behavior by high-profile inmates, placing them in an open setting (around other inmates) is a major concern to correctional administrators,” Robert Hood, previous warden of America’s notorious "Supermax" prison in Florence, Colo., wrote for CorrectionsOne, an online resource for corrections officers in 2011.

Some inmates seek out altercations with high-profile inmates as a way to gain notoriety, for political reasons, or to take justice into their own hands, Mr. Hood went on to explain.

“As corrections professionals, we are bound to protect high-level inmates from other inmates and from themselves,” he said. 

For their own safety, high-profile inmates are often placed under protective custody where they live a part from the rest of the prisoners. This is an unfair practice, say some prison officials and advocates, because the term is basically a euphemism for solitary confinement.

The use of solitary confinement has become increasingly controversial in recent years, with some justice reform advocates saying the practice amounts to cruel and unusual punishment, even for violent inmates. The fact that high-profile offenders are placed in isolation because of what other inmates might do, regardless of their own behavioral track records is troubling for many in the justice community.

Former Patriots tight-end Aaron Hernandez, for instance, is considered to be a "model prisoner," yet he is essentially serving his life sentence for first-degree murder in solitary confinement because of his fame.

“Though the head of [Bristol County House of Corrections], Sheriff Tom Hodgson, has described Mr. Hernandez as ‘a model prisoner,’ Hernandez remains in a solitary confinement-like situation usually reserved for ‘troublemakers,’ ” writes Calen Weiss, editor of the Criminal Law Brief. “The circumstances of Hernandez’s celebrity-status have forced Sheriff Hodgson to place Hernandez in protective custody for Hernandez’s own safety. Hodgson fears that other inmates may try and attack Hernandez to ‘raise their own stature.’ Simply put, Hernandez’s strict confinement is a direct result of his fame.” 

It is not yet reported whether or not Fogle will be placed under protective custody. 

Although these high-profile offenders may not deserve the isolation, some say it is necessary for their safety. 

“Being prominent gets you noticed, and being noticed in prison is generally not very good,” New York defense lawyer Benjamin Brafman told Billboard.

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