The American Civil Liberties Union is concerned about Aaron Hernandez's accommodations in jail as the former New England Patriots tight end waits for his murder trial to start.
In a blog post on ACLU.org, the group expresses concern about the damage being done to Hernandez as he is placed in protective custody, also known as solitary confinement – which the ACLU argues can do more damage than good. It cites international communities "that recognize solitary confinement as a form of 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," ACLU.org wrote. "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."
Hernandez could be waiting many months for his trial to begin. Some believe it could take a year. He was denied bail, and then denied again on appeal with the judge citing the strength of the prosecution's evidence and the risk of Hernandez fleeing. He was reportedly being kept away from the general prison population for his safety. The ACLU worries about him being kept in a cell the "size of a parking spot."
The ACLU discusses the "debilitating psychological effects" when a prisoner is extremely isolated. The group uses Hernandez's case to bring attention to the 80,000 cases of solitary confinement of prisoners, saying that it drastically diminishes the chances of rehabilitation. It says that some studies show prisoners released from extreme isolation have higher rates of repeating criminal behavior.
Hernandez hasn't had a ton of public support since he was arrested in connection with the killing of Odin Lloyd. Former teammate Deion Branch, rapper Snoop Lion and the ACLU pretty much comprise the list now. While his former teammates with the Patriots go through the 2013 season, Hernandez will have plenty of time to think about his circumstances in less-than-ideal conditions. The ACLU is concerned about what long-term effect all that time by himself might have on Hernandez.