STATE CAPITOL BRIEFS - LUNCH EDITION - THURSDAY, FEB. 27, 2014

STATE HOUSE NEWS SERVICE

SHERIFF: INVESTIGATORS PIECING TOGETHER INFO ON HERNANDEZ ALTERCATION

Jail officials are conducting interviews and reviewing surveillance video and should have a better understanding by the end of Friday about the alleged beating of an inmate by accused murderer and former New England Patriot tight end Aaron Hernandez. Bristol County Sheriff Thomas Hodgson told the Dennis and Callahan show on WEEI Thursday morning that neither Hernandez nor the other inmate has been disciplined in connection with the incident and acknowledged the possibility that security protocols may have been breached by jail staff, while saying he did not want to leap to any conclusions before the investigation is completed. Because he is famous, Hernandez has been incarcerated under "special management" protocols that permit him three hours per day out of his cell and largely keep him away from other inmates. While the investigation is ongoing, his time out of the cell has been reduced to one hour per day, Hodgson said. "They're trying to piece it all together and figure out exactly what went on," the sheriff said. Hodgson declined to comment on reports that the inmate allegedly beaten by Hernandez was handcuffed at the time. "I can't really get into that," he said. The sheriff said there's a possibility that a "bad decision" by an employee could have led to the altercation, but cautioned that other factors could have been involved. "Anything can happen in a prison," said Hodgson, who added that he'd heard of a $30,000 offer for a photograph of Hernandez in jail. - M. Norton/SHNS

UMASS CLAIMS $226 MIL IN SAVINGS

As University of Massachusetts officials pursue a second consecutive year of big increases in taxpayer aid, they are affixing a sizeable estimate to savings achieved or expected from 147 efficiency projects across the five-campus system. University officials told the UMass Board Wednesday that $226 million has been saved or will be saved in connection with an efficiency program put in place in 2011, including $67 million in energy savings and more than $43 million in procurement-related savings. The university also reported saving $33.3 million in savings through "new mobile devise policies and contracts and through improved cloud-based shared data services, data security and operations." UMass said details about the savings will be included in a report scheduled for release in early March. While tax revenues are projected to grow by 4.5 percent next fiscal year, UMass is pressing for an increase in state aid from $479 million to $518 million, following this year's big increase from $418 million in assistance during fiscal 2013. To back up its call for an even 50-50 split in university funding between students and the state budget, university leaders are pledging a second consecutive year of flat tuition and fee levels and relief from rising costs for students if Beacon Hill leaders agree to their funding request. The university's annual budget is about $2.5 billion and it is supported by significant funds from federal government, including revenues from research grants and patents. - M. Norton/SHNS