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Police: Aaron Hernandez claims no gang affiliation

By Will Brinson | NFL Writer

Aaron Hernandez claims he has no gang affiliations. (USATSI)
Aaron Hernandez claims he has no gang affiliations. (USATSI)

Aaron Hernandez is in jail on a charge of murder, moving jail cells and undergoing the standard legal processes involved in being held in prison without bail. One of those apparently includes undergoing an assessment for gang affiliations. And Hernandez is free of those, or at least claims to be.

Bristol County (Mass.) Sheriff Thomas Hodgson told the Herald News of Fall River (Mass.) that the prison's Gang Intelligence Unit completed its assessment of Hernandez, and the former NFL star claims he has no gang affiliations.

However, Hodgson also said the prison will "maintain caution" with Hernandez as they're not completely assured he's free of affiliations.

“We feel we should still maintain caution even though we don't have any definitive notions at this point,” Hodgson said.

Hodgson added that Hernandez was "acclimating very well" and appeared calm within the prison walls.

“He seems to be acclimating very well. He doesn't seem to be nervous,” Hodgson said.

It's not surprising that Hernandez would claim no gang affiliation -- doing so would only send the speculation around this case spiraling even further out of control. And it's not surprising either that the prison would exercise caution in handling Hernandez.

He's currently in a new jail cell, albeit one that doesn't allow "face-to-face" interaction with other prisoners. It's part of a "methodical" process for integrating Hernandez in the prison population.

Part of the assessment of Hernandez's gang affiliations includes photographs of his tattoos (he has many). Hodgson's caution in clearing Hernandez of any affilations leads to the presumption that the former Patriots tight end will continue to be studied for any links to potential gangs.

My guess on this? It'll take about seven days to process Hernandez's body art and come to a clearer idea where he stands. That's the amount of time in between Hernandez moving jail cells and his next evaluation -- if the prison is at all concerned he might have gang ties, you can bet they won't be too eager to move Hernandez into general population, where such ties could certainly lead to a less-than-desirable outcome.

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