George Pell's interactions behind bars will be initially limited but in time he could be reunited with some former religious colleagues who are now among Australia's most notorious sex offenders.
Like all convicted child sexual offenders, the cardinal will have a target on his back in jail. After just two weeks in custody, Corrections Victoria determined Pell was at "immediate risk of serious threat".
If or when that status changes, prison authorities have indicated he may be granted more freedoms, including contact with other carefully chosen prisoners.
The Hopkins Correctional Centre at Ararat, 100km west of Pell's hometown Ballarat, is widely tipped to be his address for at least some of the three years and eight months until he becomes eligible for release on parole aged 81.
He could reunite there with some old colleagues and some of the facility's most depraved residents, including the nation's most prolific paedophile priest, Gerald Ridsdale, who admits abusing 65 children.
They lived together in 1973 in the presbytery at St Alipius church and boys primary school in Ballarat where another Ararat inmate, Christian Brother Robert Best, abused some of his more than 30 victims from 1968 to 1973.
Best is serving 14 years in Hopkins.
The Victorian government describes Hopkins as providing "medium security accommodation for prisoners with protection requirements, including a number of sex offenders and some remand prisoners."
Pell was first taken into custody in February and held at the Melbourne Assessment Prison where he returned on Wednesday after being sentenced to a maximum six years in prison for sexually abusing two 13-year-old choirboys in 1996 and 1997.
County Court Chief Judge Peter Kidd said the offending at St Patrick's Cathedral in East Melbourne was brazen.
Pell sat emotionless during sentencing and was visibly thinner than he had appeared before being taken into custody.
"Your obvious status as Archbishop cast a powerful shadow over this offending," Judge Kidd told him.
"In my view, your conduct was permeated by staggering arrogance."
Defence barrister Robert Richter said Pell's time behind bars would be onerous, including time in protective custody and up to 23 hour a day lockdown.
Judge Kidd acknowledged the challenges when sentencing Pell before a packed courtroom and global live television audience.
"The safety risk towards you - currently assessed as 'at immediate risk of serious threat' - may be reduced in protection, so that in time you may be able to mix with a limited number of heavily vetted prisoners," he said, quoting a Corrections assistant commissioner.
Pell's health could also be a factor in his location. He has hypertension, congestive heart failure, a pacemaker and osteoarthritis.
Judge Kidd said Pell could die in jail, acknowledging the sentence would at least represent a substantial portion of his remaining life expectancy.
Pell denies the crimes and has lodged an appeal.
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