[JURIST] The South Carolina Department of Corrections (SCDC) [official website] ended [press release, PDF] its policy of separating prisoners infected with HIV from the general population on Wednesday, making South Carolina the final US state to do so. The SCDC abolished the policy in an effort to revamp medical services and in consideration of a federal court order to end a similar policy in Alabama [JURIST report]. The SCDC has not determined a date for integration. There are currently 351 male and 15 female prisoners in South Carolina infected with HIV. According to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) [press release]:
For decades, HIV-positive prisoners in South Carolina have been subjected to a policy which required isolation and segregation, and forced prisoners to involuntarily disclose their health status in violation of medical ethics and international human rights law. Prisoners living with HIV were barred from equal access to many in-prison jobs and programs, including a host of rehabilitative, educational, trade skills and vocational programs.
The ACLU welcomed the move as “a milestone in the ACLU’s campaign to end HIV segregation in the Deep South.”
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. The ACLU filed the lawsuit [complaint, PDF] against the Alabama Department of Corrections (ADOC) [official website] in 2011. The ACLU and Human Rights Watch (HRW) [official website] 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.