The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Local News

April 1, 2011

DOC: ACLU claims 'misinformed'

The commissioner of state prisons said he has not been served with the lawsuit ACLU lawyers said they filed Monday demanding equal treatment for HIV-positive inmates, but he said the claims are “by all accounts false and misinformed.”

The American Civil Liberties Union filed the class-action suit against the Alabama Department of Corrections over a policy to keep HIV-positive prisoners segregated from other prisoners, which, in effect, bars them from rehabilitation services. Among the plaintiffs are four inmates from Limestone Correctional Facility, which has more than 200 HIV-positive prisoners.

The suit names DOC Commissioner Kim Thomas, Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley and other DOC officials.

Thomas said in a statement released Thursday morning the allegations “regrettably ignore this department’s important obligations to provide health care, prevent the transmission of sexually transmitted diseases, and manage the prison population in such a way to ensure the safety of that population, departmental staff, and the public at large.”

According to the ACLU, prisoners with HIV in Alabama are excluded from residential pre-release units where prisoners near the end of their sentences learn to transition back into the community and from jobs that enable prisoners to gain marketable work skills and experience. It also stated that the inmates are not allowed access to the community corrections program, which affords qualified prisoners the opportunity to work in the community during the day.

The suit was filed on behalf of 10 plaintiffs. The four local prisoners are Louis Henderson, Darrell Robinson, Dwight Smith and Albert Knox. Two other prisoners are part of the Decatur work-release program and four female plaintiffs are housed at Tutwiler Prison for Women.

Allison Neal, legal director for the ACLU in Alabama, said the ACLU and DOC have been communicating on the issues since 2006 but have reached an impasse.

Margaret Winter, associate director of the ACLU National Prison Project, described Alabama’s prison segregation policy as “nothing more than a shameful remnant of an earlier era of ignorance and hysteria about HIV.”

The ACLU stated South Carolina is the only other state with similar prison policies.

Adam Smith contributed to this report

 

1
Text Only
Local News
Poll

A recent national telephone survey found 75 percent of respondents believe the sale and use of pot will eventually be legal nationwide. Do you think marijuana should be legal in Alabama?

Yes
No
No, but I don’t think pot smokers should go to jail
Yes, but only for medical use
Yes, but only for personal adult use
     View Results
Facebook
AP Video
Tributes Mark Boston Bombing Anniversary Raw: Kan. Shooting Suspect Faces Judge US Supports Ukraine's Efforts to Calm Tensions Suspect in Kansas Shootings Faces Murder Charges Ukraine: Military Recaptures Eastern Airport Raw: Storm Topples RVs Near Miss. Gulf Coast NASA Showcases Lunar Eclipse Pistorius Cries During Final Cross-Examination The Boston Marathon Bombing: One Year Later Michael Phelps Set to Come Out of Retirement First Women Move to Army Platoon Artillery Jobs Sex Offenders Charged in Serial Killings Police: Woman Stored Dead Babies in Garage OC Serial Murder Suspects May Have More Victims Family: 2 Shot in Head at Kan. Jewish Center Raw: Horse Jumping Inspires 'Bunny Hop' After Attack, Officials Kill 5 Bears in Florida Popular Science Honors Year's Top Inventions ND Oil Boom Attracting Drug Traffickers
Twitter Updates
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Stocks
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
Business Marquee