July 12, 2013
According to South Carolina prison officials, the state soon will stop its policy of segregating HIV-infected inmates in its prisons. At present, the state has 366 HIV-infected inmates in two Columbia prisons. According to South Carolina Corrections Department Director Bill Byars, the change is part of an overhaul of the agency's services, but they have not set a date for officially integrating the HIV-infected inmates into the general population. Byars explained that the medical staff had studied the issue and that officials considered it safe to change the policy.
South Carolina was one of two states still separating HIV-infected inmates; the other was Alabama. A judge struck down Alabama's segregation policy last year on the grounds that it violated federal disabilities law after inmates, backed by the American Civil Liberties Union, sued; however, it is not known if Alabama has integrated its prison population as yet. South Carolina was preparing for its own lawsuit after a 2010 U.S. Department of Justice deadline to end the segregation of prisoners expired, but no lawsuit was ever filed. However, Byar, who took office as corrections department director in 2011, said that the department had been working gradually on the issue.