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California
corrections department overturns discriminatory HIV policy

California
corrections department overturns discriminatory HIV policy

California allows family visits for HIV-positive inmates.

The California department of corrections on Wednesday overturned its policy preventing spouses from overnight visits with HIV-positive inmates. In response to a demand letter sent by the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California on behalf of a married couple who were excluded from such visits because the incarcerated husband is HIV-positive, the department acknowledged its policy is discriminatory and in violation of federal law. The department's new policy is to allow spouses to have "family visits" with such inmates, provided that the spouses sign confidential agreements demonstrating that they are aware of the health of the inmate.

"We are pleased that the department of corrections recognized its mistake swiftly," ACLU of Southern California staff attorney Christine P. Sun said in a statement. "A blanket rule that discriminates against and isolates those with HIV sends the wrong message and is illegal. Cutting off inmates from their spouses just because they have HIV not only irreparably harms their relationship but also wrongfully discriminates on the basis of disability." Family visits are typically allowed for low-security inmates and are recognized as an important element in keeping families together during and after a spouse's incarceration. (The Advocate)

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