What We Know About Danny Masterson's Life In Prison

Danny Masterson, the former "That 70's Show" star and convicted rapist who is serving 30 years to life, now spends his days with 3,400 other inmates at the California Men's Colony in San Luis Obispo, in California's Central Coast. The 48-year-old disgraced actor is best known for his role as the wise-cracking Steven Hyde on the late 1990s to early 2000s Fox sitcom that also launched the careers of Mila Kunis and Ashton Kutcher. But these days he's equally known for his 2023 convictions for forcibly raping two women at his home a decade earlier.

Since entering the California prison system in December 2023, Masterson has also served time in two other prisons, including a maximum security facility where cult leader Charles Manson once lived. Masterson's current home is in a minimum and medium security prison where he has access to rehabilitative and academic programs. Meanwhile, he's appealing his sentence after the judge in the case denied him bail. He's also fighting a related civil suit. 

Masterson's not the only former child star to end up behind bars, there's a fairly extensive list, but his downfall has been pretty spectacular nonetheless. While he sought fame as an actor, instead, he may feel like he's now "living in a fishbowl," as one formerly incarcerated California man who spent 26 years in prison described life in the penal system to the Los Angeles Times.

30-year sentence

Police first arrested Danny Masterson in 2020 on allegations he drugged and raped three women between 2001 and 2003 but the first trial ended in a deadlocked jury and mistrial. In a second trial held in 2023, a jury of seven women and five men convicted him on charges related to two of the three women. Judge Charlaine Olmedo, who oversaw both trials, sentenced Masterson to serve 30 years to life for his crimes. Like Masterson, a life-long Scientologist, his victims were also part of the religious organization. Prosecutors in the case said the church shielded Masterson and prevented the women from coming forward for years. This may have been due in part to Scientology's conflicting message to its members about reporting crimes. The organization has denied this.

Masterson requested the court allow him to remain free while he appealed the convictions but Judge Olmedo denied the motion, calling him a flight risk since the "defendant has no wife to go home to," among other reasons (via the New York Daily News). During both trials, his then-wife, actor Bijou Phillips, stood by Danny Masterson's side. She sent a heartfelt letter to the court asking for leniency for Masterson before his sentencing. "I can say that Danny has literally been a life-saving partner to me," she wrote (via The Independent). But just days after the jury convicted Masterson of two counts of rape, Phillips filed for divorce.

From prison to prison

Danny Masterson has been shuttled around the California prison system during his first few months of incarceration. His first stint was in North Kern State Prison after he started his sentence on December 27, 2023. He was only there for about a month, according to USA Today, before being transferred to Corcoran State Prison at the end of January 2024. Corcoran is the maximum security prison that housed Charles Manson until his death in November 2017.

However, Masterson's time in Corcoran was short-lived. After about three weeks prison officials moved him to the California Men's Colony for "the inmate's well-being," an unnamed law enforcement source told Deadline in February 2024. It's not hard to imagine Masterson was unaccustomed to prison culture where, as the previously mentioned man who spent 26 years behind bars told the LA Times, "... in prison, if someone walks up close to you, that means they're trying to harm you" — a far cry from a fan wanting a selfie or an autograph. It's also not a stretch to imagine he'd be an easy target.

We do know that Corcoran isn't a pleasant place. As Corcoran State Prison describes, it tends to be violent, cells "cramped" and shared, conditions are unsanitary, "medical care and basic needs" inadequate, and its rehabilitation programs limited. The environment is replete with security measures like razor wires, surveillance cameras, and electrified fences that contribute to an overall "oppressive" feeling. 

However, in February 2024 he was moved again. This time to California Men's Colony in San Luis Obispo.

Masterson is living in a 'dormitory setting'

TMZ said that Masterson would have to undergo the same intake as every other prisoner in the California penitentiary system, a process that takes up to 90 days. During that time inmates are prohibited from family visits and access to personal property. They can take advantage of recreation and "the yard" but have limited access to whatever entertainment is available. After the initial 90 days of the first week, Masterson would be allowed one phone call a month.

With all the shuffling around he did within those 90 days, it's hard to know how or whether that applied, but it wasn't until mid-March that his estranged wife, Bijou Phillips, went to visit Masterson's with their 10-year-old daughter, Fianna, at the California Men's Colony for the first time, according to The Daily Mail. In other efforts to get back to his post-conviction life, Masterson will likely be meeting with his lawyers as his appeal moves forward. He'll also be talking with other attorneys on his civil harassment case filed by the women from the criminal trial and their families. The case, in which the Church of Scientology is a co-defendant, is scheduled to go to trial in September 2025.

In the meantime, Masterson is now being held in the West wing of the prison, where medium and minimum-security inmates live in "a dormitory setting," per the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. People housed there can get involved with various "self-improvement programs" from anger management and family relationships to cognitive behavior therapy. There's also a program in which inmates train K-9s to help first responders with PSTD and disability.