Human Rights Watch and the ACLU announced that Mississippi has officially ended its policy of segregating prisoners with HIV. Alabama and South Carolina are now the only states that continue this practice.
According to the press release, health experts agree that there is no medical basis for segregating prisoners. The practice does not protect anyone, but instead ostracizes a group of people, making them more vulnerable to hostility and violence from others. In addition, HIV-positive prisoners were prevented from accessing educational programs, vocational training and other essential resources to facilitate the transition into society.
Margaret Winter, associate director of the ACLU National Prison Project, remarks, “[Mississippi's corrections] Commissioner Epps deserves a tremendous amount of credit for making this courageous decision to replace a policy based on irrational HIV prejudice with a policy based on science, sound correctional practice, and respect for human rights. The remaining segregation policies in South Carolina and Alabama are a remnant of the early days of the HIV epidemic and continue to stigmatize prisoners and inflict them and their families with a tremendous amount of needless suffering.”
To learn more about the ACLU National Prison Project, which fights for prisoners’ rights, click here.
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