The cinderblock room is stark. A dull metal bunk is mounted to the wall. A toilet, sink and writing shelf are affixed to other walls. A stool is bolted to the floor.
Inmates spend about 20 hours a day locked in their cells. Whenever they are on the grounds, 372 high definition cameras record their every move, 24 hours a day, a prison source tells PEOPLE.
Such is life in Souza-Baranowski Correctional Center, a maximum security prison about 40 miles west of Boston.
Next week, the prison will welcome a new resident: former NFL star Aaron Hernandez who was found guilty of murdering Odin Lloyd on Tuesday. Unless something changes, this is where Hernandez will spend the rest of his life.
Hernandez will be one of nearly 1,500 inmates.
The intake routine will be his first sign that he’s in Massachusetts’ toughest prison. New inmates are strip searched – including body cavity searches. They’re scanned for contraband and fingerprinted, the source says.
They’re given dull gray scrubs and laceless white tennis shoes. (Their shoes cannot have any color on them, to avoid gang affiliation.) They’re also given a bag of essentials: underwear, a dull razor, a toothbrush, and a pen. They’re shackled as they move from place to place.
According to CNN, prison officials are worried about keeping Hernandez safe.
“There could be prisoners with a beef who are out to get him,” Leslie Walker, executive director of Prisoners’ Legal Services of Massachusetts, tells CNN. “Then he’s going to have to be separated, and it’s going to be challenging for prison officers and perhaps for him.”
Once settled into his cell, Hernandez will be able to buy a portable TV or radio – specially designed units with see-through housing to keep inmates from smuggling contraband.
It’s a life very different from what could have been. Before his arrest, Hernandez had signed a five-year, $40 million contract with the New England Patriots. He had lived in a sprawling, $1.26 million mansion with a gameroom and a pool.
But the house is long gone, seized in 2013. Now, prison is his home.
Walker tells CNN that the monotony of inmate life will likely wear on Hernandez. “There’s very little to do,” says Walker. “Some people have been [in the prison] since it opened, and those people are excruciatingly bored, or scared, or both.”