The American Civil Liberties Union sets out to preserve and defend the individual rights that are supposed to be guaranteed to every person in this country.
Some of those rights and liberties are supposed to extend to those in prison or lock up. The ACLU routinely intervenes in the justice system anytime they feel a prisoner is being wronged, and they’ve arrived again to chime in on the Aaron Hernandez murder investigation.
Hernandez has been kept in solitary confinement at the Bristol County House of Corrections since he was arrested over a week ago.
He is reportedly kept inside his cell 20 hours a day, and has all his meals brought to him. The ACLU recently wrote a blog post in defense of Hernandez’s living situation, likening it to ‘torture.’
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 beirreversible, and an emerging international community has begun to condemn solitary confinement. The UN Special Rapporteur on Torture has said thatsolitary 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 justicesystem. 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.
Hernandez has been a model inmate so far, and reportedly denied having any gang ties that would prevent him from entering general population.
Hernandez’s celebrity is actually what is keeping him in isolation, and as much as he feels uncomfortable, there have to be steps taken to prevent an even bigger story from developing if something was to happen to him.