What would it be like in jail for Trump if he's convicted?

The Secret Service has begun grappling with how to protect a former president behind bars

Photo collage of an open jail cell with a golden toilet inside. A decorative border of barbed wire surrounds the image.
The question is "how to reconcile equal treatment with ensuring a former president's security"
(Image credit: Illustration by Julia Wytrazek / Getty Images)

It's a strange quirk of Donald Trump's time in the White House that, despite his aggressive "law and order" bluster, it was his administration that championed the First Step Act, the nation's first major criminal justice reform measure in nearly a decade. Now, six years after signing that bill into law, Trump is once again considering the implications of America's carceral system — this time as a defendant in a suite of criminal cases featuring the remote, but very real, possibility that he will serve time in prison.

Trump now unquestionably faces the most serious legal peril of his long time in the public eye. It remains decidedly less clear what might happen if the former president of the United States is actually sentenced to an indeterminate time behind bars. As unprecedented as Trump's various criminal charges over the past several years have been, the prospect of his future incarceration presents a host of unique challenges. For now, Trump's most acute risk of jail time is not that he will ultimately be found guilty in his ongoing "hush money" trial in Manhattan, but that he will be held in contempt of court for violating a gag order. 

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Rafi Schwartz, The Week US

Rafi Schwartz has worked as a politics writer at The Week since 2022, where he covers elections, Congress and the White House. He was previously a contributing writer with Mic focusing largely on politics, a senior writer with Splinter News, a staff writer for Fusion's news lab, and the managing editor of Heeb Magazine, a Jewish life and culture publication. Rafi's work has appeared in Rolling Stone, GOOD and The Forward, among others.