Aaron Hernandez has been jailed without bail pending trial on murder and weapons charges. He has enjoyed limited public support, due in large part to the strong circumstantial evidence that prosecutors have compiled in only three weeks since the killing of Odin Lloyd and the never ending stream of stories about other bad stuff Hernandez supposedly did.
But Hernandez can now expand by 50 percent the list of those who have spoken out on his behalf — former teammate Deion Branch, Snoop Dogg/Lion/Whatever, and the ACLU.
The ACLU doesn’t care about Hernandez as much as it cares about its agenda, and it has used Hernandez’s situation to spark a debate regarding 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,” Hilary Krase and Sarah Solon of the ACLU write in an item posted on July 3 at the organization’s website. “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.”
The ACLU then addresses the potential psychological costs of keeping human beings alone for extended stretches of time, even if the goal is to protect them from other inmates.
Here’s the problem presented by the practicalities of prison. The only human interaction Hernandez would currently have is with other men who would be tempted to do him harm. Though each one individually will claim he is innocent, collectively there are some very bad people who have done far worse things.
In that setting, there are certain types of persons who become magnets for more bad things being done to them, requiring them to be isolated for their safety.
The better philosophical argument in Hernandez’s case would be that, for the taxpayer resources being devoted to keep him behind bars, Hernandez should be allowed to remain isolated in his home. If there’s a concern he’ll flee, Hernandez can reimburse the government for the costs of a 24-hour police detail in or outside his home.
Regardless, the same system that protects Hernandez from a life sentence for murder via devices like the presumption of innocence, the right against self-incrimination, the right to counsel, and the get out of jail free card known as reasonable doubt mandates that he remain in custody until his trial. His lawyers have had two chances to get him sent home, and they’ve failed to convince the presiding judge that the benefit outweighs the risk.
Meanwhile, Sunday’s apparent filler item in the Boston Herald about Hernandez’s “quiet” July 4 behind bars and his daily menu and other details of his incarceration now makes sense. With the ACLU sounding off about solitary, the folks at the Bristol County jail wanted to get the word out that Hernandez is tolerating his current lifestyle very well.
And that’s good. Because based on what we currently know, it’s likely going to be his lifestyle for a long time.