Aaron Hernandez Is Now Locked Alone Inside a Room the Size of a Parking Spot

Following his well-publicized arrest, former New England Patriots star Aaron Hernandez is now living in a much less public place. Hernandez was recently placed into "protective custody" —one of the many names for solitary confinement.

Regardless of what you think of Aaron Hernandez, it's important to take a minute and remember he has not yet been convicted — in the eyes of the law, he is still innocent until proven guilty. But, while awaiting trial, he has been locked alone in a small room with little or no human interaction for over 20 hours a day.

Extreme isolation can have debilitating psychological effects. Prisoners locked alone in solitary confinement may become depressed or begin hallucinating. Psychologists have said that the effects of prolonged solitary confinement can be irreversible, and an emerging international community has begun to condemn solitary confinement. The UN Special Rapporteur on Torture has said that solitary confinement can amount to torture, and the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment found that solitary confinement conditions can amount to inhuman and degrading treatment.”

Sadly, what's happening to Hernandez is not a rarity in our criminal justice system. There are more than 80,000 prisoners in solitary confinement across the country. They remain isolated for weeks and sometimes years on end, often without the press attention Hernandez's case has gotten.

Prison officials sometimes justify solitary confinement as necessary to separate vulnerable prisoners, such as juveniles and the elderly, or high-profile prisoners, like Hernandez, from the general population. But this "protection" comes at an unnecessarily high cost. Isolation is particularly devastating for vulnerable populations — for kids, isolation can cause severe psychological and physical harm and negatively impact social and development growth. The harms of protective custody are so well known that the Prison Rape Elimination Act regulations that the Department of Justice requires mandate that adult facilities make their "best efforts" to avoid placing youthful detainees in isolation.  And, for the cognitively disabled or those with severe mental illness — who frequently make up the majority of those living in solitary confinement — extreme isolation can exacerbate their condition and can result in significant deterioration.

It is time to recognize that "protective custody" is a misnomer for a destructive practice. It does little to protect prisoners from the devastating psychological effects of isolation. It drastically diminishes chances for rehabilitation. And according to some studies, prisoners released directly from supermax confinement have significantly higher recidivism rates.

If nothing else, maybe all the press attention Hernandez's case is getting will help debunk the myth of "protective" solitary confinement.

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Anonymous

what do you expect. his purpose in life was to tackle and be tackled. not much activity up there. hope his lawyers milk him for whatever is left.

Mike Ormrod

Lack of Social Interaction Can Cause So Many Problems, Just Ask Charles Manson. as It Did Wonders For His Social Skills

Anonymous

It's better he be seperated from the others at this time or he will be playing a football game every day.

Ryan Pettigrew

I just did 8 years in solitary confinement at CSP in Colorado and my lawsuit is in the Tenth Circuit for them keeping me in ad seg despite diagnosing me with Bipolar Disorder and then they tortured me for 24 hours. I get into detail about my situation in my blog http://ryanpettigrew7.blog.com/, my YouTube channel http://www.youtube.com/channel/UCEumfamt993qszQfbBlM11w/feed and Reddit AMA ww.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/1dgggj/i_am_an_exconvict_who_spent_eight_years_in/. I'm doing everything I can to bring attention to this while also helping others learn from my mistakes.

Aaron Hernandez may not do 8 years in solitary but the fact is that he's not convicted of any crime and America has strayed from the innocent till proven guilty mantra that we began with. He probable won't go to trial for a year or two while remaining in solitary confinement this whole time. If acquitted, he will face similar psychological issues from his confinement that he didn't have to begin with. That's unacceptable.

Anonymous

So he gets up to four hours of human contact a day? Hell that's more than I normally get, and I'm a free man.

Also, I'm curious why you seemed to omit any type of potential alternative for Hernandez? Is he supposed to be put in with gen pop? I mean he's a huge, strong guy and I'm sure he can fight but he probably is better off in solitary.

Write a blog post if he's still being held in solitary without trial in a year. But he was arrested last week and this blog article makes the ACLU look ridiculous. I'm sure there's more important things you can be focusing on.

Anonymous

I am with ACLU. He is innocent until proven guilty. I believe that everyone makes mistakes and is also entitled to a second chance. Uh, Ray Lewis got one. This is a young man with nothing but negative thrown his way. Ah, I say to hell with everyone, I think Aaron is fine and I will write to him....Let him go, he might have just done this world a favor and got rid of a bad person too.
TEAM AARON HERNANDEZ

Anonymous

If you were anyone of Odins family members I'm sure you wouldn't give 2 rats asses where this piece of trash is kept. Actually, I'm not a member of his family and I could care less.

Anonymous

This blog and thinking by the ACLU makes this organization look beyond stupid. Any reasonable person understands the less humane conditions - he is in prison. He is a dog. He doesn't live in his mansion anymore because he is now linked to at least 3 different crimes.

The ACLU is doing either 2 things: 1). taking a ridiculous stand in a high profile case just so their organization seems relevant or 2). supporting a soon-to-be-known killer. You don't have to hear the words "guilty" in court to understand he was linked to these crimes, you just need a brain. Which apparently the ACLU is scrambling to find.

DAVID WALKER

WTF ARE YOU KIDDING ME. IM IN A HOSPITAL ALL ALONE FOR HOURS AND I DIDNT KILL NO ONE, OR AM I ACCOUSED OF KILLING SOMEONE. IM LIVING IN HELL RIGHT NOW...............

Jim Fitzgerald

Come on...he has the financial asset to defend himself. PLEASE...pick a better cause!

Jim

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