Fulton County, Ga., Officials Ask Judge to End Oversight of Prison System Resulting From Lawsuit Brought by HIV-Positive Inmates
Fulton County, Ga., officials have asked U.S. District Judge Marvin Shoob to end his oversight of the county's jail, which began two years ago after a group of HIV-positive prison inmates sued the county claiming they were not receiving adequate medical care, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports (Rankin, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 8/23). As a result of the lawsuit, which was settled, Shoob ordered the county to hire more temporary staff to provide HIV care; develop a written agreement for outside medical services, including "assurances for timely responses to medical needs"; and improve the system for screening, diagnosing, treating and monitoring inmates with HIV, sexually transmitted diseases and tuberculosis. Shoob also ordered the county to address the problem of overcrowding in the jail, which he said "poses significant health risks to HIV-positive inmates, as well as to other inmates, staff and the community" (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 4/17/00). In motions filed with the court, attorneys for the county said it has complied with the settlement agreement to update care for all HIV-positive inmates and noted that under the Prison Litigation Reform Act, a settlement agreement must be terminated after two years unless there are remaining constitutional violations. The motions also challenged Shoob's authority to expand the HIV-related case to include other issues, such as the right to legal counsel and overcrowding. Stephen Bright, director of the Southern Center for Human Rights, which represented the HIV-positive inmates in the case, said that Shoob should continue to monitor the system because overcrowding "does affect health care at the jail (Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 8/23).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.