The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

State and Nation

September 30, 2013

Judge approves deal in Ala prison case over HIV

MONTGOMERY — A federal judge on Monday approved a settlement to end the segregation of HIV-positive inmates in Alabama prisons, but it will be months before the practice concludes.

U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson issued a 37-page opinion saying the blueprint to end the policy isn't perfect but should be allowed to take effect.

The settlement was the result of a previous decision by Thompson, who ruled that the practice of making HIV-positive prisoners live apart from other inmates discriminated against prisoners infected with the virus that causes AIDS and lacked a medical basis.

Female inmates with HIV already are living with other prisoners at the state's lone women's prison because of the ruling, and male inmates will be integrated into the general prison population by Nov. 1, 2014.

"There's nothing that says they can't do it sooner," said Margaret Winter, an American Civil Liberties Union attorney representing inmates.

The prison system and the ACLU issued a joint statement saying the agreement, which followed lengthy negotiations, "is in the best interest of the (Department of Corrections), its inmates and the citizens of the State of Alabama."

The settlement includes extensive training for prison workers and inmates to increase understanding of HIV infection.

The settlement ends prison practices such as requiring HIV-positive inmates to wear special armbands and establishes a zero-tolerance policy toward harassment of inmates infected with the virus. Inmates moving out of special HIV units will be eligible for new opportunities like work-release jobs and educational programs.

Thompson sided with prisoners in December and ordered the Department of Corrections to quit making HIV-positive inmates live in housing areas away from other prisoners. Thompson held two hearings last week on the resulting settlement.

The ACLU sued the prison system in 2011 over the segregation of HIV-positive inmates, with about 200 male prisoners at Limestone prison and fewer than 10 women at Tutwiler Prison in Wetumpka.

Thompson approved $1.3 million in legal fees and expenses that must be paid by the state.

All other states have abandoned similar segregation policies except South Carolina, which plans to move HIV-positive inmates into the main prison population by Jan. 1.

Thompson noted that federal courts once upheld Alabama's policy of segregating HIV-positive inmates, but medical science has changed dramatically in the years since and the practice was no longer needed.

1
Text Only
State and Nation
Photos


Poll

Which foreign crisis is the biggest threat to the security of the United States?

Russia-Ukraine
Israel-Palestine
Iraq
None of the above
     View Results
Facebook
AP Video
Obama Chides House GOP for Pursuing Lawsuit New Bill Aims to Curb Sexual Assault on Campus Russia Counts Cost of New US, EU Sanctions 3Doodler Bring 3-D Printing to Your Hand Six PA Cops Indicted for Robbing Drug Dealers Britain Testing Driverless Cars on Roadways Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle At Least 20 Chikungunya Cases in New Jersey Raw: Obama Eats Ribs in Kansas City In Virginia, the Rise of a New Space Coast Raw: Otters Enjoy Water Slides at Japan Zoo NCAA Settles Head-injury Suit, Will Change Rules Raw: Japanese Soldiers Storm Beach in Exercises Raw: Weapons Fire Hits UN School in Gaza Raw: Rocket Launches Into Space With Cargo Ship Broken Water Main Floods UCLA Two Women Narrowly Avoid Being Hit by Train Crayola Announces Family Attraction in Orlando
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