Local state senator: Mass. has among highest rates of inmate suicide

SHIRLEY, MA (WHDH) - One local politician is calling for changes to the state’s prison system following the death of Aaron Hernandez.

State senator Jamie Eldridge spoke outside the Souza-Baranowski Correctional Center in Shirley, the town he represents.

Eldridge says the state has among the highest suicide rates for prisoners and corrections officers. He says the apparent suicide of Aaron Hernandez underscores the need to improve conditions at the correctional center and other prisons across the state.

The Massachusetts Department of Corrections says Hernandez was not on suicide watch but was in a single cell in the general population unit.

Eldridge says he recently visited the facility in Shirley. He’s also filed legislation that would create a special commission to take a closer look at high suicide rates in state prisons.

According to The Washington Post, the Bureau of Justice Statistics lists a prison suicide rate of 32 per 100,000 prisoners from 2001-2014 — the fourth-highest rate in the country behind Rhode Island, Utah, and Montana. That rate is more than twice the national average of 13.26 per 100,000 prisoners.

The senator says he hopes this incident will lead the governor and the legislature to take a closer look at how the state prisons are run.

For the senator’s complete comments, check out the video above.


(Copyright (c) 2018 Sunbeam Television. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)