WASHINGTON ― It’s a well-recognized story: An inmate takes his or her life inside a jail or jail, and household and family members are left questioning how the incident probably may have occurred. This time, the general public curiosity is even greater ― one of the crucial well-known prisoners in America, former NFL star Aaron Hernandez, was found dead in his cell on Wednesday morning, in keeping with the Massachusetts Department of Correction.
Hernandez, 27, was serving a life sentence for the 2013 murder of Odin Lloyd, a semi-professional soccer participant who was courting the sister of Hernandez’s fiancee. That sentence was handed down in 2015, however final Friday, he was discovered not responsible of a separate 2012 double homicide.
(Word: This text discusses a few of the particulars of the means by which Hernandez killed himself.)
It’s a false impression that there’s nothing prisons and jails can do about suicides in custody. Though “not all inmate suicides are preventable, lots of them are,” stated Lindsay Hayes, a nationwide professional on this situation who beforehand consulted with the Massachusetts Division of Correction. Hayes additionally famous that he was “assured” that the company and its well being care supplier will conduct complete investigations into Hernandez’s dying, and that “ought to embrace a clear willpower as as to if or not his dying was preventable.”
Because the circumstances unfold, there are a selection of things which will assist reply that query: Had been there any warning indicators, and in that case, ought to Hernandez have been placed on suicide watch? Did he obtain applicable psychological well being screening and remedy, if warranted? How usually was he alleged to be checked on, and when was his final contact with a correctional officer? Was his jail cell designed with suicide prevention in thoughts, or retrofitted to scale back ligature factors an inmate may use to hold himself?
Within the wake of Hernandez’s dying, his household is seeking a probe. His former agent said he didn’t consider that Hernandez would kill himself. (It’s not unusual for family and friends members to be skeptical beloved one would ever take his or her personal life.)
There have been 47 suicides in Massachusetts prisons between 2001 and 2014, in keeping with federal information. From 2001-2014, the suicide mortality price in Massachusetts state prisons was 32 per 100,000 inmates, double the nationwide common of 16 per 100,000 over that timeframe. There have been six suicides in 2014, however only one suicide in 2015 and two in 2016, according to Massachusetts Division of Correction information.
The suicide price in jails is far greater than it’s in jail. In state prisons all through the nation, that price was 20 deaths per 100,000 inmates in 2014, in comparison with 50 deaths per 100,000 inmates in native jails, in keeping with Bureau of Justice statistics.
Nonetheless, jail suicides look like on the rise lately. The proportion of suicides in state prisons in 2014 was the very best recorded since 2001, and represented a 30 % bounce from 2013 to 2014 ― from 192 deaths in 2013 to 249 deaths in 2014. The suicide dying price in 2014 ― 20 suicides per 100,000 inmates ― was the very best price recorded since 2001.
A part of the discrepancy between prisons and jails is as a result of nature of the confinement. In contrast to prisons, jails maintain inmates for under brief intervals of time, and they’re coping with individuals who is probably not used to the shock of confinement, may very well be withdrawing from medication or alcohol, and have unknown psychological well being histories. (A Huffington Post investigation discovered that almost a 3rd of jail deaths over a year-long interval occurred within the first 72 hours after reserving.)
Hernandez wasn’t new to confinement: He was already serving a sentence of life with out parole. However his obvious suicide occurred lower than every week after he was acquitted on separate expenses stemming from the homicide of two different individuals. Through the trial, he had contact together with his household — together with his 4-year-old daughter — in a special capability than he would have as soon as again in jail. That sort of occasion is a set off “that might improve his danger of harming himself,” says Eric Balaban, a senior workers counsel with the Nationwide Jail Undertaking on the American Civil Liberties Union. That raises the query of whether or not Hernandez’s psychological well being standing was evaluated throughout or after the trial.
A jail spokesman informed the Boston Globe that Hernandez had not been on a suicide watch and didn’t recommend that he deliberate to hurt himself, though it’s not clear on what analysis that was based mostly. (A Massachusetts Division of Correction spokesperson didn’t instantly reply to HuffPost’s record of questions on Hernandez’s dying.)
The Souza-Baranowski Correctional Middle, the place Hernandez was held, is a 500,000 sq. foot maximum-security facility that opened in 1998 at a price of greater than $100 million. It has greater than 1,000 cells and 366 cameras. Earlier this 12 months, it was the positioning of a jail riot the place inmates have been “getting ready for war,” within the phrases of 1 official.
Leslie Walker, the chief director of Prisoners’ Authorized Providers of Massachusetts, informed the New York Times on Wednesday that she thought-about the jail “troubled” and famous they have been “very involved” about it.
The group sued the state on behalf of inmates in December for allegedly unlawfully segregating mentally in poor health inmates in solitary confinement, which might exacerbate psychological well being points and make inmates extra prone to commit new crimes after they’re launched. The swimsuit alleged that Division of Correction officers have been downgrading the diagnoses of mentally in poor health inmates, making them eligible to position in segregation.
The bodily plan of a jail, in addition to whether or not inmates have direct supervision from workers, will also be key elements in stopping suicides. We don’t but understand how usually Hernandez was alleged to be checked on by workers, or when he really was.
Hernandez was discovered hanging by a bedsheet tied to the cell window, and it’s unclear whether or not the window had been designed to forestall suicide. For the cell window to be suicide-resistant, any safety bars ought to have been flush with the window or coated, or the hole between the bars and the window ought to have been eradicated, in keeping with a guide issued by Hayes on suicide-resistant cells.
Hernandez was additionally in a single cell in a basic inhabitants unit on the time of his dying, in keeping with prison officials, which will also be a danger issue.
Because the investigation into Hernandez’s dying is ongoing, authorities and Hernandez’s household are nonetheless looking for solutions. “There have been no conversations or correspondence from Aaron to his household or authorized crew that might have indicated something like this was potential,” said Jose Baez, a lawyer for Hernandez.
If you happen to or somebody you already know wants assist, name 1-800-273-8255 for the National
Suicide Prevention Lifeline. You may as well textual content HELLO to 741-741 without cost,
24-hour help from the Crisis Text Line. Outdoors of the U.S., please
go to the International Association for Suicide Prevention for a database