Mississippi HIV-Positive Inmates to Receive Reforms in Education, Treatment Programs
The Mississippi Department of Corrections has promised to improve treatment, educational and vocational programs for HIV-positive inmates, the Jackson Clarion-Ledger reports. The improvements will be based on the recommendations of a 15-member HIV/AIDS Task Force convened last November by Corrections Commissioner Robert Johnson. The suggestions include eliminating the policy that bars HIV-positive inmates from being considered for low-level security areas, appointing a committee to oversee increased HIV training for staff and inmates, assigning three additional security officers for penitentiary programs and integrating HIV-positive inmates into educational and vocational programs. However, housing for HIV-positive inmates will remain separate from housing for prisoners without HIV. No definite schedule has been set for the implementation of the recommendations, but Johnson said he will develop a timetable after the corrections department reviews the report.
Reforms in Alabama?
Inmate advocates praised Johnson's decision to enact the panel's recommendations and hoped the move would "inspire" similar reform in Alabama, the only remaining state to segregate HIV-positive inmates in housing and programs after Mississippi implements its reforms (Sawyer, Jackson Clarion-Ledger, 5/1). But John Hamm, spokesperson for the Alabama corrections department, said the state has no plans to change its policies. "We don't tie ourselves to any particular state," Hamm said. In January 2000, the Supreme Court ruled that Alabama could continue to separate HIV-positive inmates from the rest of the population (Wagster, AP/Dallas Morning News, 5/6).