updated 6/8/2005 6:23:50 PM ET 2005-06-08T22:23:50
Q & A

The jury is still out in the Michael Jackson case.  But, we can assume Michael Jackson’s life would drastically differ behind bars from the plush surroundings of his Neverland retreat.  To get specifics, Countdown Host Keith Olbermann asked two different experts: Tom O‘Neil, Senior Editor of In Touch magazine and Jim Thomas, the former sheriff of Santa Barbara County.   

Cosmetic issues
OLBERMANN:  Outline what we might call Jackson‘s cosmetic issues — make-up, hair, even the rumors of prostheses.  What’s him and what isn’t?

O‘NEIL: Certainly, that hair’s not him.  We know that that’s a wig.  We know that some of his make-up is tattooed on — for example, the eyeliner and the lip stuff.  But the rest of it is powder, and that may have to go.  As I understand it, if this fake nose he has is cosmetic, it has to go.  But if it‘s medical, it can stay.  Some people believe there is no nose there and there are just two holes in the front of his face.

OLBERMANN:So Jim Thomas, what are the rules in jail there for make-up, wigs, and this borderline definition of what‘s a medically artificial nose and what‘s simply a cosmetically artificial nose?

THOMAS:  Well, the make-up goes, Keith.  The wig goes.  And the nose, who knows?  I‘ve never run into that before, so that‘s probably going to be a pretty good test on our medical staff to determine if, indeed, it is cosmetic or if it is medical.  If it’s medical, he would be allowed to keep it.  If it’s not, he wouldn‘t.

Flight risks
OLBERMANN:  Tom O‘Neil, in the report that we saw Jim in, he said his big fear about Jackson would be the prospect of being a suicide risk.  I take it that you think that’s not as likely as his being a risk of a different kind.

O‘NEIL:  Remember that song he sang called “Beat It”?  Well, when he arrived at that jail for sentencing charges by plane, rumor has it he told the pilot, ‘turn around.  We’re going to Costa Rica.’  Now, if that‘s true, there are a lot of legal authorities who say there will be a period of time between the verdict and the sentencing in which he will not be incarcerated.  I don‘t know if that‘s actually true or not.  And then some people say it may even extend while certain appeal issues are worked out.

OLBERMANN:  Well, let’s talk about that with Jim, the flight risk idea.  What is in place to deal with somebody like Michael Jackson, who might try to escape and might be really unskilled at it?  And what—how quickly would he be in the court’s control?  Would there, in fact, be some period of time where he might be able to make a dash for it?

THOMAS:  If he’s convicted of the charges, Keith, what will happen is that the DA will say, I want his bail remanded.  I want him remanded into the custody of the sheriff.  And then he would go to the custody of the sheriff until sentencing, and then once sentenced, will go to state prison.  There would not be a time in between when he is sentenced and a time of when the verdict comes out.  Now, the only change to that would be if he were to be charged or found guilty of one of the misdemeanor counts of the alcohol.  Then they might let him go.  But if it’s one of the molestation cases, he will not have a chance to flee.

Health factors
OLBERMANN:  Tom, last thing, about his health or the degree that he has or doesn‘t have a back problem, that’s one thing.  But what about, you know, nutrition, hyperbaric chambers — all that stuff?

O‘NEIL:  I know! I don’t think he’s going to get “Jesus juice,” either, at the jail.  He has one of the fussiest food habits of all.  He drives cooks at Neverland crazy.  He’s not going to be able to get the menus the way he wants it.  And we‘ll really find out if he has a back problem or not because doctors who are not fans of Michael will actually be deciding whether he needs these painkillers or not.

OLBERMANN:  Jim, no hyperbaric chambers, obviously.  But to be treated differently in that jail because you have a medical or physical condition, to require medication, what threshold do you have to clear?  Can you get, in fact, special treatment?

THOMAS: Well, you can get treatment, not necessarily special treatment.  Any of the treatment that he would receive would be through jail medical staff, perhaps with consultation of his doctors.  But it will be up to the medical staff in the facility to determine what kind of medication or any kind of hospitalization that he receives.  And I think I can say with some degree of certainty it would not be to the degree that he‘s receiving it now.

Bigger nightmare
OLBERMANN:Last question for you, Jim.  This is sort of a philosophical one, but I’ll give you a shot at it.  For whom would it be a greater nightmare and difficulty, the people running the jail in Santa Barbara County or Michael Jackson, if he had to serve time there?

THOMAS:Both.  The sheriff will be very happy when Michael Jackson is out of his custody, if, in fact, he is in his custody and moves on to the prison sentence period of it.  But Michael Jackson, I believe, will adapt.  When he‘s given a strict regimen, I think he follows it, and I think he’ll be able to do it there.

For more on Jackson, watch "Countdown with Keith Olbermann." The show airs weeknights, 8 p.m. ET on MSNBC TV. E-mail Keith at KOlbermann@MSNBC.com

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