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Alabama prison ends HIV-positive segregation policy

The Alabama Department of Corrections (ADOC) [official website] on Wednesday announced an end to its policy of segregating HIV-positive inmates at Julia Tutwiler Prison for Women. As of August 1, eight HIV-positive female inmates were transferred [AL.com report] to the general prison population, with similar changes to the male inmate population to go into effect in 2014. The ADOC will keep identities of HIV-positive prisoners confidential [AP report] while upholding a zero-tolerance policy for violence directed toward the inmates.

In December a judge for the US District Court for the Middle District of Alabama ruled that Alabama's policy of segregating HIV-positive prisoners violated the Americans with Disabilities Act [JURIST report]. The ACLU filed the lawsuit [complaint, PDF] against the ADOC in 2011. The ACLU and Human Rights Watch jointly produced a report [text, PDF], which concluded that the prisoners face fundamental discrimination which amounts to "cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment of prisoners," including "involuntary disclosure of HIV status to family, staff and other prisoners; loss of liberty by assignment to higher security prisons; denial of work, program and re-entry opportunities; and policies that promote, rather than combat, fear, prejudice and even violence against persons living with HIV." In 2009 Mississippi ended its HIV segregation policy, and South Carolina [JURIST report] became the last state to do so in July.

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