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Prison that housed Aaron Hernandez has had its share of troubles

SHIRLEY, Mass. — The maximum security prison where Aaron Hernandez apparently hanged himself[1] has seen its share of troubles since it opened nearly two decades ago, most famously the strangulation of a convicted pedophile priest.

The 27-year-old former NFL star was found by guards hanged with a bedsheet at about 3 a.m. Wednesday and was pronounced dead at a hospital about an hour later. He was serving a life sentence for the 2013 killing of Odin Lloyd[2]. The Souza-Baranowski Correctional Center, built for $105 million in the central Massachusetts town of Shirley, was hailed as the most technologically advanced in the nation when it opened in 1998. It has more than 1,000 cells that were meant to ease overcrowding in the state s prison system.

Prison That Housed Aaron Hernandez Has Had Its Share Of Troubles

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Legal analyst on Aaron Hernandez’s death

Former NFL player Aaron Hernandez was found dead in his cell overnight; officials said he hanged himself with a bed sheet. Hernandez was serving … It is named for two former prisons workers — guard James Souza and instructor Alfred Baranowski — who were killed at a prison in Norfolk in 1972 during an aborted escape attempt by a convicted murderer.

John Geoghan, a central figure in the clergy sex abuse scandal, was serving a nine to 10-year sentence for molesting a 10-year-old boy when he was killed in his Souza-Baranowski prison cell[3] in August 2003 by another inmate who jammed the door closed so guards could not get in. A commission appointed by then-Gov. Mitt Romney conducted a top-to-bottom review of the state s prison system that called for improvements in the inmate classification system, disciplinary procedures and prison management. Several other inmates have taken their own lives at Souza-Baranowski over the years, but none of them was as famous as Hernandez. Most of those suicides were hangings using either sheets or T-shirts.

Earlier this year, about four dozen inmates went on a destructive rampage[4], smashing tables and other furniture, removing fire extinguishers from walls and destroying computers in the area where the officers normally would be stationed. Guards withdrew from the area and quelled the inmates with pepper spray. Secretary of Public Safety Daniel Bennett said at the time that many inmates had armed themselves with makeshift weapons and were getting ready for war[5].

Prison That Housed Aaron Hernandez Has Had Its Share Of Troubles

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Aaron Hernandez found not guilty of 2012 double murder

Aaron Hernandez was found not guilty in a double murder case from 2012. The former professional football player is already serving a life sentenc… A former inmate, who asked to be identified as Anthony, told CBS Boston[6] that the riot began after corrections officers prevented inmates from using the showers. It came down to showers. Showers, simple as that, he said, and for three hours, dozens of inmates took control of the prison. Anthony said that the widespread rioting could have been avoided if corrections officers had allowed the men shower. You are getting a 15 minute shower and everyone would have been peaceful and happy and it would have just been another day in prison, he said, disputing the reports that inmates were fighting each other or arming themselves for war.

People were reacting out of passion, he said.

In another instance of inmate-on-inmate violence, in August 2003, a 72-year-old man convicted of murder who used a cane was beaten to death by two other prisoners after an argument. Within a year of the prison s opening, a man convicted of killing a Rhode Island corrections officer stabbed the prison s superintendent with a sharpened piece of metal. The wound was superficial. In May 2001, seven guards were injured when they were assaulted by inmates, and in June 2012 seven guards were injured in a confrontation with inmates.

A guard was seriously injured in November 2013 when he was stabbed in the neck by an inmate with a makeshift knife. The blade narrowly missed the guard s spinal cord. In the U.S., suicide is the No. 2 cause of death for state prisoners[7]. From 2001 to 2013, more than 2,500 state prison inmates killed themselves, according to a 2015 report by the Bureau of Justice Statistics. Suicides accounted for about 6 percent of state prison deaths in that period.

The vast majority of deaths in state prisons — about 9 in 10 — are the result of illness, according to the bureau.

2017 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

References

  1. ^ Aaron Hernandez apparently hanged himself (www.cbsnews.com)
  2. ^ 2013 killing of Odin Lloyd (www.cbsnews.com)
  3. ^ killed in his Souza-Baranowski prison cell (www.cbsnews.com)
  4. ^ destructive rampage (www.cbsnews.com)
  5. ^ getting ready for war (www.cbsnews.com)
  6. ^ CBS Boston (boston.cbslocal.com)
  7. ^ No. 2 cause of death for state prisoners (www.cbsnews.com)

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