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April 19, 2010

Advocates Call Alabama, S. Carolina to Stop Segregating HIV-Positive Prisoners

Human Rights Watch and the American Civil Liberties Union National Prison Project are calling for an end to the segregation of HIV-positive prisoners in Alabama and South Carolina, Reuters reports. On April 14, the advocacy groups issued a 45-page report titled Sentenced to Stigma: Segregation of HIV-Positive Prisoners in Alabama and South Carolina, which highlighted that these two states are the last in the country to combine mandatory HIV testing with immediate isolation for those prisoners who test positive.

“The segregation and discrimination against HIV-positive prisoners continues to this day in Alabama and South Carolina, and constitutes cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment in violation of international law,” the report said.

According to the report, prisoners in the HIV units of facilities in Alabama and South Carolina were forced to wear armbands or other markers to indicate their HIV status. They were forced to eat and worship separately and were also denied equal participation in prison jobs, programs and transitional re-entry opportunities.

Mississippi had the same segregation policy in place until last month, when it reviewed the report’s findings before publication.

“There is no medical or other justification for separating prisoners with HIV from the rest of the prison population,” Megan McLemore, health researcher at Human Rights Watch, said in a statement accompanying the report.

Search: Alabama, South Carolina, HIV, prisoners, segregation, testing, policy, American Civil Liberties Union National Prison Project


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