Ponson receives protective custody



Sidney Ponson, the former Orioles' pitching ace jailed this week on a drunken driving conviction, requested that he serve his five-day sentence in protective custody at the Central Booking and Intake Center in Baltimore, according to state prison officials and his attorney.

State officials confirmed yesterday that they had granted the request.

Arthur Alperstein, Ponson's attorney, said it was normal for someone who has a "high profile" to be segregated from the jail's general population. Protective custody typically involves being locked in a single cell for 23 hours a day, with one hour of recreation time. State prison officials said that Ponson was not receiving any special treatment while held at the booking center.

"We have found that anyone going into the booking center, they're always better off there in [protective custody], if they qualify," Alperstein said. Otherwise, he noted, "you can end up sleeping with five guys in a cell."

On Monday, a District Court judge convicted Ponson, 29, of his third drunken driving offense and sentenced him to five days in jail. He turned himself over to authorities Tuesday and is expected to be released this weekend, Alperstein said.

Ponson's run-ins with the law, including a drunken driving offense in Florida early this year, caused him to lose his pitching job with the Orioles. Ponson and the Orioles, who are trying to void $10 million left in his contract, are in the midst of arbitration proceedings.

Yesterday, Ponson chose not to eat breakfast because he didn't find it appealing, his attorney said.

"He's not getting any special food," said Alperstein, who did not know what Ponson declined to eat. "It's whatever they give him. It was not what you'd get at the Marriott Waterfront hotel."


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