Federal Judge Hears Arguments in Motion To End Oversight of Georgia Jail Resulting From HIV-Positive Inmate Lawsuit
U.S. District Judge Marvin Shoob on Thursday heard arguments in a motion to end the court's oversight of the Fulton County, Ga., jail, which began in 1999 after a group of HIV-positive prison inmates filed suit against the county over allegations that they did not receive adequate medical care, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports (Rankin, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 10/18). As a result of the lawsuit, which was settled out of court, 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, 8/26). On Thursday, county attorneys, who filed the motion, told Shoob that conditions at the jail no longer violated civil rights laws and said that the court's oversight of the facility should end. However, attorneys for the HIV-positive inmates argued that problems remain at the jail that could "imperil the inmates' health and safety," the Journal-Constitution reports. Robert Greifinger, a court-appointed monitor, agreed, saying for example that the jail does not provide mentally ill HIV-positive inmates with adequate treatment after their release. Although Shoob said that the jail has made "substantial progress" in improving conditions for HIV-positive inmates, he did not issue an immediate decision on the motion (Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 10/18).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.