Should Staphmeal’s Joshua Scott Albert Be in Maximum Security? [Updated]

Philly's infamous gossip blogger awaits trial behind bars.

It wasn’t so long ago that Joshua Scott Albert was pissing off much of Philadelphia with StaphMeal, his foul-mouthed gossip blog that took aim at everyone from Marc Vetri to Michael Nutter (with a shot of his own penis thrown in for fun). But these days, the onetime Occupy Philadelphia protagonist is an inmate at Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility in the Northeast, the maximum-security prison he’s called home since last September.

Fellow inmates have included Kermit Gosnell and the Kensington rapist. “This place sucks,” he told a friend in a letter, writing that a recent jailhouse stabbing was so violent that it required a haz-mat unit for cleanup: “There was so much blood!”

The 26-year-old is in protective custody, probably because the warden knows he’d be eaten alive in the general population. He’s playing chess, reading and meditating while he awaits trial on charges that include three felony counts of criminal solicitation to commit murder. If that sounds serious, it is: Theoretically, he faces decades in prison.

The charges stem from the “Kill Seth Williams” and “Kill John McNesby” pages Albert created on Facebook, as well as anti-police statements he made online, such as: “What’s better than one dead cop? Two.” Apparently, Albert never got the “Don’t Mess With Cops” memo. Both Williams, Philly’s D.A., and McNesby, the president of the city’s Fraternal Order of Police, showed up to testify at his preliminary hearing.

It’s pretty easy to say that Albert deserves whatever is coming to him. But it’s worth asking: Did he really want anyone dead, or were his statements–like the rest of his ridiculous vitriol–just the rantings of a twisted but harmless mind? McNesby admitted in court that even he didn’t take the threats seriously when he first saw them. But antagonize some of Philadelphia’s most powerful players, and this is what you get.

Lloyd Long, Albert’s attorney, is expected to argue that his client’s comments were satiric and are therefore protected under the Constitution. But Albert’s trial isn’t scheduled until January 2014, and he’s been unable to make his $100,000 bail. There’s a chance he could get his bail lowered soon thanks to a state law designed to prevent prisoners being held indefinitely, but if not, it’s going to be one cruel summer for him.

Albert refused to comment for this story, and his attorney is staying mum as well. But in the letter to his friend, Albert offers this assessment of his predicament: “This case is such fucking bullshit.”

Updated [3:30 p.m., 5/13/13]: Albert has been released from prison.

A version of this article appeared in the May issue of Philadelphia magazine.

[Image: FACE, Philadelphia Inquirer/David Maialetti; BODY, Istockphoto]