HARTFORD (CBS Connecticut/AP) — The American Civil Liberties Union is concerned that former New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez is now “locked alone inside a room the size of a parking spot” after being placed in a new cell last week.
In a recent blog post, the ACLU worries that Hernandez could suffer “debilitating psychological effects” being isolated.
“Prisoners locked alone in solitary confinement may become depressed or begin hallucinating,” the blog post states. “Psychologists have said that the effects of prolonged solitary confinement can be irreversible, and an emerging international community has begun to recognize solitary confinement as a form of torture.”
Hernandez is being held without bail at the county jail in Dartmouth, where Sheriff Thomas Hodgson said he is acclimating well and being held alone in a cell. He gets an hour of outdoor recreation a day, an hour to shower and make phone calls, and an hour to talk to visitors per day.
Hernandez was moved to a new cell last Monday and does not have any one-on-one interaction with other inmates, Hodgson said.
The ACLU hopes the Hernandez case shines light that “protective custody” can lead down to a destructive path.
“If nothing else, maybe all the press attention Hernandez’s case is getting will help debunk the myth of ‘protective’ solitary confinement,” the ACLU wrote.
Hodgson says Hernandez has been a model inmate but is being watched closely because other inmates might want to “make a name for themselves.”
Hernandez has been charged with murder in the shooting death of his friend Odin Lloyd, whose body was found June 17 near Hernandez’s home in North Attleborough, Mass. Hernandez has pleaded not guilty.
Prosecutors say Hernandez, 23, orchestrated Lloyd’s execution-style slaying. They say it happened after the two went to a night club a few days earlier and Lloyd spoke to people Hernandez didn’t want him talking to. Two other men are also facing charges in connection with the death of Lloyd, who played linebacker for the Boston Bandits semi-pro football team. Hernandez and Lloyd were dating sisters.
Hernandez’s lawyers say the case against him is circumstantial and that he’s eager to clear his name.
Hernandez signed a five-year contract worth $40 million with the Patriots last year but was released the day of his arrest.
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