They act like they’re big shots, until reality dawns on them

I was saddened, but not surprised, to read about Aaron Hernandez‘ behavior behind bars after his conviction for murder.

Aaron Hernandez racked up about a dozen disciplinary offenses in the slammer — including fistfights and possession of a metal shiv — and told prison officials that “this place ain’t s— to me,” according to a report.

About a month after the former Patriots tight end was imprisoned for murder, a correction officer wanted to check him for marks and bruising, CNN reported.

But Hernandez had blocked his cell door at the Souza-Baranowski Correctional Center, making it tough for the guard to enter.

When he finally got in, the guard observed redness on Hernandez’s knuckles and elbow. As the guard escorted a shackled Hernandez to be seen by medical staff, he became “agitated and insolent.”

“You just making up s—,” Hernandez told the guard, CNN reported.

“This place ain’t s— to me,” he barked after a checkup. “I’ll run this place and keep running s—. Prison ain’t s— to me.”

The details were included in a lengthy prison discipline record on the former NFL star, which CNN obtained through a public-records request.

. . .

He accumulated a total of about a dozen disciplinary offenses between May 2015 and October 2016 — including three fistfights, two smoking-related issues, two surprise prison tattoos and possession of a nearly 6-inch metal shiv, CNN reported.

There’s more at the link.

In my years as a prison chaplain, I saw this again and again.  People who were, in their own eyes, ‘hard men’ on the outside, tried to throw their weight around when incarcerated.  First, they found out that there were plenty of other ‘hard men’ behind bars, who weren’t about to tolerate anyone trying to dominate them.  Next, they faced up to the reality that for years to come – perhaps for the rest of their lives – they were going to take orders from prison guards whom they might have despised in ‘outside’ life;  they were going to be ordered around all day, every day, and never have the freedom to arrange their lives for themselves;  and they were going to stare at brick or concrete walls, and bars in their windows, and barbed or razor wire, every waking moment.  Their freedom was over and done with.

It’s no wonder so many commit suicide, or attempt it.  I’m surprised that more don’t do so.

I recall one inmate, a formerly wealthy owner of his own very successful business.  He’d decided that rather than allow his wife to divorce him, thereby getting a share of his business, he’d have her killed, so he could keep it all.  He regarded it as ‘her fault’ for ‘betraying’ him, and being ‘greedy’.  After his conviction, he spent almost ten years appealing it through any and every angle he could.  He worked his way through all the levels of courts in the land, losing every time, until his lawyer had to tell him that the Supreme Court had refused to hear his case.  His appeals were exhausted, and he was facing the rest of his life behind bars.  Thanks to his arrogant, violent, self-centered behavior, a great many of them would be spent in a high-security prison like the one he occupied at the time.

He snapped.  In his suicide note, he said he couldn’t bear to live among so many ‘low-lifes’.  He genuinely considered himself better than they were, even though his crime had been just like many of their offences.  That, clearly, didn’t count in his eyes.  He made a long cord-like strap out of material he stole from the prison factory, and hanged himself from the bars of his cell that night – very like Hernandez did in his prison in New York.  I was on duty when the guard in his unit sounded the alarm.  The authorities responded at once, and very professionally, and managed to cut him down before death set in;  but he’d cut off enough oxygen to his head that the brain damage was irreversible.  After a couple of days, they shut down life support, and he died a short while later.

I always regarded his death as a mixed blessing.  He was no longer a waste of taxpayer money . . . but he never repented of his crime, and always expressed the thought that it was his ‘right’ to protect ‘what was his’, and stop his wife ‘getting her claws onto his money’.  They say that if you live for something, you’ll die for it, too.  He lived for his money.  I suppose you could say he died for no longer having access to it – because he’d spent it all on lawyers, trying to weasel out of the consequences of his actions.  As a pastor, no matter how severe his crimes, I remain sad that he never repented.  Eternity is an awful long time to spend in darkness . . .



  1. And now a judge has thrown out his conviction because he managed to assume room temperature before his appeal was heard.


    From what I read on the case, the prosecution was based on very good evidence. Are they cutting him slack just because he was NFL and not sumdoodstreethood?

    I would think that him slabbing himself was a pretty good indication that even he thought that his appeal was dead in the water.

    Great googly moogly. Thi… wait… Massachusetts. Okay, nothing shocks me from that state, well, actually following the rule of law and the Constitution would shock me coming from that state…

  2. One thing on the Hernandez thing is that his death causes his conviction to be overturned. This will make it more difficult for his victim's survivors to sue Hernandez's estate. No justice this side of the grave.

  3. Vacating his conviction because of his death during the appeal is pretty normal. It only draws attention when it happens to someone famous, like him or Ken Lay. Lay died of a heart attack before he was sentenced so the case was still unresolved at his death.

  4. They say that if you live for something, you'll die for it, too. He lived for his money.

    “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” Luke 16:13 (NIV)

    Wisdom of the ages.

  5. "surprise" prison tattoos. Is there perhaps a Prison Tattoo workshop when inmates and get "expected" prison tattoos?

  6. From what I heard,by overturning his conviction, the Patriots are now obligated to pay his heirs the money he was contracted to receive. I understand he has a young daughter. Maybe some good can still come out of all this.


  7. The conviction was vacated, not overturned. As I understand it, when it's vacated, it's because of a procedural or court issue and the prosecutor may try again with the same facts & law but must avoid the procedural defect. Overturning a verdict is a statement by the appeals court that either the law or the facts did not support the verdict and the prosecutor has to come up with more materiel.

    Massachusetts is using a legal fiction that death is a procedural problem, since the Commonwealth doesn't normally prosecute dead people.

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