Segregated HIV-Positive Inmates in Alabama Prison Sue Over ‘Inadequate’ Living Conditions, Medical Care
HIV-positive inmates at Limestone Correctional Facility in Capshaw, Ala., on Nov. 18 filed a lawsuit against the state Department of Corrections and NaphCare, the private medical provider for the state prison system, alleging "inadequate living conditions" and medical care, the Huntsville Times reports (Huntsville Times, 11/19). A special unit of the Alabama prison system at Limestone houses more than 200 HIV-positive inmates, keeping them "systematically segregated round-the-clock and excluded from programs offered to other inmates." The segregation policy was under attack for nearly 16 years until the Supreme Court last year refused to hear an appeal in which some of the inmates accused Alabama of "unconstitutional discrimination" (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 8/20/01). The suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Birmingham, is on behalf of inmates Eric Howard, Antonio Leatherwood, John Levins, Michael Patrick and Jerry Sanford (Associated Press, 11/21). According to David Lipman, the plaintiffs' lawyer, "at least" 41 inmates with HIV have died at the Limestone facility over the last three years -- a mortality rate more than five times the national average among other HIV-positive inmates, the Times reports. The lawsuit alleges that inmates are "housed in a dilapidated warehouse with holes in the roof, far away from the main prison." In addition, the suit says that the building is not adequately heated and is "persistently infested" with rats, birds, roaches and mosquitoes. Brian Corbett, a spokesperson for the state Department of Corrections, said that although department officials had not seen the suit, it is "a bunch of trumped up allegations that are hogwash." Officials from NaphCare did not comment (Huntsville Times, 11/19).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.