Alabama Corrections Department To Expand Re-Entry Program for HIV-Positive Inmates to General Prison Population
The Alabama Department of Corrections is expanding a program that helps HIV-positive inmates transition to life outside of prison in an effort to lower the number of inmates who commit new crimes after they are released, the AP/Tuscaloosa News reports. The Alabama Prison Initiative, a joint project of the corrections department and the Department of Public Health, provides almost all HIV-positive inmates with transition services up to three months before their probation, parole or end-of-sentence dates. The program currently serves 23 HIV-positive women and 250 HIV-positive men, Elana Parker, who will serve as the re-entry coordinator and public health liaison for the program, said. "What we're looking at doing is taking that model and expanding that to the general population and making this something that involves more community organizations as well as other agencies and faith-based groups," Parker said. According to the AP/News, the new program aims to help former inmates re-establish their identities by obtaining Social Security cards, driver's licenses and birth certificates in some cases. The program also will assist participants in finding jobs and housing prior to their discharge. The corrections department has not determined the cost of expanding the program, and a start date has not been set, but it could begin by this fall, Parker said. "The more support [inmates] have that first year when they're out, the less likely they are to come back," prisons Commissioner Richard Allen said, adding, "We've got the [inmates living with HIV/AIDS] in pretty good shape right now, we've just got to take care of the rest of the population" (Hunter, AP/Tuscaloosa News, 4/8).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.