Drew Peterson’s new life as an Illinois Department of Corrections inmate has begun.
Peterson was transferred this morning to the Stateville Correctional Center near Crest Hill, where he was evaluated for placement based upon factors such as his conviction, length of sentence, program needs and medical and mental health requirements.
Peterson stayed at Stateville only a few hours before being sent to his new home at Pontiac prison northeast of Bloomington, a maximum security facility that has a protective custody unit. The assignment was based upon factors such as his conviction, length of sentence, program needs and medical and mental health requirements, per Illinois Department of Correction protocol.
Officials have not said whether he has a cellmate or if he will be in solitary confinement like he had been during his jail stay.
As part of his daily routine there, he will remain in his cell for most of the day, though he will be allowed out for meals and showers. Most inmates also get about five hours of recreation time outside per week, Illinois Department of Corrections spokesman Stacey Solano said.
The Will County jail – which had held Peterson in solitary confinement since his May 2009 arrest for his own safety – had the paperwork prepared for his transfer by the time he returned from his sentencing hearing Thursday, officials said.
The sheriff’s department, which oversees the jail, kept the former Bolingbrook police sergeant segregated from the general population there amid concerns that his high-profile case and law-enforcement background would make him a target of inmates looking to build tough-guy reputations.
Jail supervisors began preparing Peterson at 8:30 a.m. and he left without incident by 9:22 a.m., officials said.Drew Peterson wanted to make sure he was heard when he was given one last chance to speak Thursday, shortly before being sentenced to 38 years in prison for the murder of his third wife, Kathleen Savio.
Declining to speak from the defense table, where there was no microphone, the former Bolingbrook police sergeant shuffled to the witness stand in his jail-issued blue scrubs and orange shoes and began quietly.
"I hope I don't aggravate the situation," he turned and told the judge. Then Peterson screamed into the microphone, "I did not kill Kathleen!" startling almost everyone in the courtroom.
"Yes, you did!" Savio's sister Sue Doman yelled back from the gallery, prompting Will County Circuit Judge Edward Burmila to order her out of the courtroom.
It was an odd end to a case replete with oddities and circuslike sideshows. For the next 40 minutes, Peterson cried, raged and whispered, challenged the state's attorney to look him in the eye and indulged in self-pity as he unleashed his multitudinous thoughts like a character in a Dostoevsky novel.
The 59-year-old said he expects to die in prison. Barring any successful appeal, he won't be eligible for release until he's 93.
Peterson claimed that lies and mistakes by witnesses, prosecutors and police led to his conviction, and made disparaging remarks about Savio's family, attorneys and others involved in the case. His defense attorneys called the monologue an impassioned plea for leniency, but prosecutors said it was proof that Peterson is a psychopath.
"When he got up on the stand and (in) that shrill, kinda-feminine screech that he didn't kill Kathy — that's the guy that killed Kathy," Will County State's Attorney James Glasgow said. "You got a glimpse into his soul."
But in describing himself on the stand Thursday, Peterson said he was maligned and misunderstood.
"Until this happened, I thought I was viewed as a great guy," Peterson said, giving a litany of public and private good deeds before announcing he planned to tattoo the phrase "No good deed goes unpunished" across his shoulders.
"The state took an accident and staged a homicide," Peterson said, before turning to the judge. "Can I get some water?"
Once refreshed, Peterson said he had upheld the oath he swore when he became a police officer.
"I always took my job seriously, I never violated the public trust," he said, his voice husky with emotion before quoting one of the Ten Commandments. "And I never beared false witness against anyone."