Mississippi: Rights Group -- Consent Decree for HIV Inmates Still Needed
June 29, 2004
On Monday in the U.S. District Court in Oxford, the Mississippi Department of Corrections (MDOC) sought to lift a 10-year-old federal consent decree that regulates medical care and medicine provided to inmates with HIV/AIDS. MDOC has 206 inmates with HIV/AIDS.Adapted from:
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) National Prison Project argued that now is not the time to lift the consent decree, saying that a staph infection outbreak in the unit housing HIV/AIDS prisoners at the State Penitentiary at Parchman occurred because not enough soap was provided to adequately clean clothes and maintain living conditions. The infection, plaguing prisoners for the past six months, caused four inmates to be hospitalized, according to ACLU. MDOC officials deny any inmate has been hospitalized as a result of the staph infection in Unit 28.
MDOC attorney Leonard Vincent said MDOC had been in compliance with the consent decree for five years. Under the terms of the decree, if MDOC remained in compliance with the 1994 consent decree for two consecutive years, it could be removed from monitoring of medical care of HIV/AIDS inmates. "An inmate could still bring a lawsuit if there is a problem," Vincent said.
Two weeks ago, U.S. Magistrate Judge Jerry A. Davis issued an order requiring MDOC to allow eligible HIV-positive prisoners to participate in Community Work Centers. In September 2001, Mississippi began allowing HIV patients to participate in all in-prison vocation, rehabilitation and educational programs. HIV-positive prisoners were still excluded from community corrections programs.
06.28.04; Jimmie E. Gates
This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.