India-born Dharun Ravi, convicted of hate crime for spying on his gay roommate and sentenced to 30 days in jail, could end up spending only 20 days behind bars due to prison regulations in New Jersey that give credit to inmates for good behaviour.
Ravi, 20, was to begin his prison term on May 31, after being sentenced earlier this week by Superior Court Judge
Glenn Berman to a 30-day jail term, three years probation, 300 hours of community service and ordered to pay USD 10,000 to a community-based organisation that helps victims of bias crimes.
However, the prosecution filed an appeal against his sentence arguing that it is lenient.
Due to the appeal being filed in court, Ravi will now not head to jail next Thursday and his sentence would start only after the appeals court in Middlesex County makes its ruling.
Once the former Rutgers student begins his prison term in New Jersey's county jail, it is likely that 10 days are cut off from his sentence due to state regulations that give credit to inmates for good behaviour, Middlesex County Adult Correction Center warden Edmond Cicchi said, according to a report in the Star-Ledger newspaper.
Cicchi said New Jersey regulations allowed those who were sentenced to 30 days to have up to five days slashed from their term for good behavior and another five days for doing tasks like sweeping or mopping in prison.
Short-term inmates in county jails are seldom kept for their full terms unless they are charged with rules infractions.
Ravi had faced up to 10 years in prison and possible deportation to his native India when he was sentenced on May 21. His 30-day prison sentence was described as insufficient by Middlesex County Prosecutor Bruce Kaplan.
In the appeal filed on May 23 by First Assistant Prosecutor Julia McClure, the government said, "Failure to impose incarceration on the two second-degree bias counts and one second-degree hindering count negated legislative intent of those statutes. Presumption of incarceration was not overcome."
Ravi was found guilty on 15 counts of invasion of privacy and bias intimidation after a jury trial in March for spying on his Rutgers roommate Tyler Clementi during his intimate encounter with another man in September 2010.
Days after the incident, Clementi had committed suicide by jumping off the George Washington Bridge.
When he arrives at the Middlesex County Adult Correction Center, Ravi would be confined to a cell with blue-green concrete walls and floors, bolted-down metal-framed bunk beds and narrow windows looking out at chain-link fences topped with razor wire, the Star-Ledger said.
Ravi would go through medical and mental examinations and receive a classification for his assignment.
He could be placed in a maximum setting, in a two-person, 15-by-10-foot cell behind a heavy metal door or he could be in a less restrictive minimum security unit, with 10-by-20-foot cubicals with four bunk beds.
While he will have access to recreation facilities for about an hour a day, his reading will be limited to material from the jail library and there will be no internet.
"Ravi will feel an initial shock, but he will adjust," said Sean Winter, chaplain for the jail and director of prison ministries for the Diocese of Metuchen.
"He's going to lose his freedom. That's prison life. Ravi is going to be fine. He just has to be himself."
Most inmates in the county jail are awaiting trial on charges like lewdness, motor vehicle offence and murder.
The jail also houses inmates with sentences of up to a year.
Any inmate seriously fearful of the prison surroundings can be placed in protective custody, a private cell where he stays 23 hours a day with no television or contact with others.
Daily routine at the jail includes getting up at 5:15 in the morning for breakfast, lunch is served at 11:30 and dinner at 5 pm served on trays delivered to the same pods where the inmates are housed.
Visitations are weekly and consist of a 20-minute video conference.
Inmates get monthly face-to-face meetings, but Ravi would not be in jail that long.
Classes are also offered for inmates to work for high school equivalence diploma or learn the basics of using a computer.
As he sentenced Ravi, judge Berman had admonished him for his "colossal insensitivity" and failing to apologise for his actions.
Before his sentencing date, Ravi had told the Star Ledger that he did not apologise largely because it would have been seen as insincere and anything he would have said "would sound rehearsed and empty."