A judge has struck down Alabama's policy of segregating prison inmates with HIV, ruling that it violates federal law. U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson ruled Friday in favor of inmates who filed suit to end the longstanding practice.
Thompson says the state's policy violates federal disabilities law.
Thompson says the state and inmate attorneys will have time to propose a way to bring state prisons into compliance with his order.
The American Civil Liberties Union calls the decision "historic." Alabama and South Carolina are the only states that segregate HIV-positive prisoners.
The Alabama Department of Corrections said that since the judge's ruling is very lengthy, 152 pages, it is still reviewing the opinion.
The ADOC statement reads:
"Based upon an initial review of the opinion, however, the ADOC is very disappointed with the conclusions and characterizations reached by the Court. The men and women of the ADOC are not prejudiced against HIV-positive inmates, and have worked hard over the years to improve their health care, living conditions, and their activities. The ADOC remains committed to providing appropriate housing for all of its inmates, including the HIV-positive population, ensuring that these inmates receive a constitutional level of medical care and that the correctional system in Alabama does not further contribute to the current HIV epidemic in our State. We will continue our review of the Court's opinion and determine our next course of action in a timely manner, but are disappointed with any ruling that makes it harder for the ADOC to fulfill its commitments to its inmates."
A class-action lawsuit accused the state of violating the Americans with Disabilities Act. Thompson says he still must decide a part of the suit involving work-release inmates.
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