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National News

Alabama: Study Says Segregating HIV and AIDS Prisoners Costly

May 1, 2003

A new study finds that Alabama's cash-strapped, overcrowded prison system could save up to almost $400,000 per year if it discontinued separating inmates with HIV/AIDS from other prisoners. The study, "Excluding Alabama State Prisoners with HIV/AIDS from Community-based Programs," was released this week by the Alabama Prison Project and the American Civil Liberties Union's National Prison Project.

The study found that if infected inmates had access to education and community-based work and restitution programs like other inmates, about 56 inmates more per year would become eligible for programs outside the prison. This would ease overcrowding and save the state $306,000-$392,000 per year, said Rachel Maddow, an expert on prisons and AIDS who headed the study. "It costs a lot less to have somebody in these community programs," she said.

Prisons spokesperson Brian Corbett said the study warrants review but it does not address the potential costs of diverting the inmates from prisons into various programs. "A positive of the segregation is that we know of zero transmissions inside the prison," he said.

Despite the state's policy, Maddow said HIV/AIDS can still be spread among prisoners in the general population who are infected but did not test positive when they entered the system. "For all the emotional appeal of this idea that you can keep people protected, the prisons have never done any study that says Alabama's rate of transmission is any lower than any other state," she said.

Alabama Rep. Laura Hall (D-Huntsville) heads the Governor's HIV Commission for Children, Youth and Adults. Hall said the segregation policy "deprives HIV-positive inmates of critical opportunities for rehabilitation afforded to the other inmates."

The study comes at a time when Donal Campbell, Alabama's new prisons commissioner, has not yet decided whether to keep the segregation policy. He was prisons commissioner in Tennessee, which has no such policy.

Back to other CDC news for May 1, 2003

Previous Updates

Adapted from:
Associated Press
04.30.03; Dave Bryan

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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.
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