>> The prison suicide of former New England Patriot star Aaron Hernandez focusing attention on deep rooted problems in the Massachusetts prison system. Federal data shows prisoners in the state are almost twice likely to take their own lives than the rest of the country. Reuters Boston bureau chief, Scott Malone.
>> I spoke to James Eldridge, a state senator whose district includes the prison where Hernandez's body was found hanging early on Wednesday morning. And he says he receives a call once every two to three months about an inmate within the state who's taken his own life. Eldridge has submitted a bill seeking to create an official state commission that would look into the problem of inmate suicide and come up with solutions for it.
>> Hernandez had been held in several state prisons since being taken into custody in June 2013. But it was at the Souza-Baranowski Correctional Cente,r 35 miles west of Boston, where officials say Hernandez hung himself using a bed sheet. The prison was also the site of a January riot in which prisoners used fire extinguishers and furniture to battle guards.
Hernandez was serving a life sentence for murder, just a few days ago, a jury acquitted him of two additional murders. Hernandez hugged his lawyer, return to his cell, and less than a week later took his own life. In all suicide accounts for about one in ten Massachusetts inmate deaths, almost doubled the national average.
Advocacy groups have been calling for a number of steps to address the problem.>> First and foremost they say there's a need for more mental health councilors, more meant to health care for people who are incarcerated so that people who may be suicidal can be identified and get treatment.
They also say that there's a need for more training for prison guards on how to identify people who may be potentially suicidal and how to deal with them.>> Massachusetts has redesigned some prison cells to be suicide resistant>> But experts say inmates are especially vulnerable spending 19 hours a day locked up.