Scroll To Top

Court order ends discrimination against HIV-positive prisoners in Mississippi

Court order ends discrimination against HIV-positive prisoners in Mississippi

A U.S. magistrate judge in Mississippi, responding to complaints by HIV-positive prisoners that they are being segregated from other prisoners and denied access to prison work programs because of their infections, issued an order for the state department of corrections to end the discriminatory practice. Judge Jerry A. Davis lifted the ban on HIV-positive prisoners from the state prisons' community work centers and all other in-prison vocational and educational programs, and also ruled that HIV-positive prisoners can transfer from the HIV units where they are currently separately housed to lower-security work centers across the state. "They have to be admitted to those facilities on the same basis as prisoners who don't have HIV," said Margaret Winter, associate director of the American Civil Liberties Union's National Prison Project. "Whatever the eligibility qualifications are, if they meet them, they'll be admitted on the very same basis." "Today I am proud to say that Mississippi has closed the door on sanctioned HIV discrimination within its prisons," said Nsombi Lambright, executive director of the ACLU of Mississippi, which participated in a task force to study the issue and urged prison officials to end the work program ban. "This new change protects prisoners and the public, because providing employment opportunities to more prisoners eases their reentry into the community and lessens the likelihood of recidivism." As of March 2004 there were 238 HIV-positive prisoners in Mississippi prisons. In 1985, 38 state prison systems segregated all prisoners with HIV and another eight segregated prisoners with asymptomatic HIV. Today, only Alabama continues a segregation policy that blocks all prisoners with HIV from participating in community corrections programs. There is no valid evidence that segregating prisoners with HIV reduces the transmission of HIV within prisons. Litigation filed by the ACLU on behalf of Mississippi's HIV-positive prisoners continues in Gates v. Collier, consolidated with Moore v. Fordice. On June 28, 2004, a hearing before Judge Davis will examine the continuing allegations of inadequate medical care and conditions for the men and women living with HIV in Mississippi's prisons.

Advocate Magazine - KehlaniAdvocate Channel Promotion

From our Sponsors

Most Popular

Latest Stories