QUESTION: Is It Wrong For Prisoners With HIV To Be Segregated?

The ACLU announced today that it is challenging Alabama’s Department of Corrections (ADOC) policy to segregate prisoners who are HIV+. According to a statement from the civil-rights group, the policy automatically excludes HIV+ prisoners from access to work-release and drug-rehabilitation programs and certain housing privileges. Some have been made to wear white armbands to identify their sero-status. The ACLU will argue Henderson v. Thomas, a class-action suit filed under the Americans with Disabilities Act, in Montgomery federal court starting next Monday.

Prisoners with HIV deserve the same rights, privileges and access to resources as any other inmates. But given the prevalence of violence and sexual assault in the prison system, is segregation a necessary evil? And given the prejudices against gay and HIV+ inmates, could separate housing protect at-risk inmates?

The ACLU is arguing that “critical advances in medical treatment” mean that HIV is not the “invariably fatal disease” the courts ruled it was in 1999. But is that really the litmus test? According to a study published by the Centers for Disease Control in 2006, the risks of HIV infection in prison is five times higher than it is in the general population.

At the same time, we bristle at the idea of curtailing people’s liberties because of what could potentially happen. Setting aside the clearly unfair practice of denying inmates access to rehab and work release, is it wrong to separate HIV+ prisoners? Or is it a necessary security measure for both the general prison population and the positive inmates themselves?

We don’t have the answers—but we’re hoping you do. Pass judgment in the comments section below.


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  • Dumdum

    What people may or may not understand is that in jail or prison a person with HIV must be kept apart from the other inmates for their own safety.Especially if you are gay.The other convicts will hurt you.There are a lot of white power guys and criminals that will not think twice about stabbing you. It is necessary to put ones-self in protective custody to avoid problems.However then you are being housed with pedophiles,rapists and must forever afterwards endure being perceived as one of them,And pray that no-one ever sees you on the street.Please don’t ask me how I know this but it is true.

  • Cam

    I don’t have a problem with segregating them for the health reasons, but I have a problem with them not being allowed access to the privilages that the other prisoners have access to. If they are worried about HIV spreading, that is one thing, I am not seeing why that means they don’t have access to rehab, counceling, work release etc…

  • Dumdum

    @Cam: It makes no sense of course and things do need to be changed.However halfway houses,rehab programs and other services are so overwhelmed and underfunded that availability is very limited.In California almost all the programs have been cut because the Peace Officers Union funnels all the money into administration.Prison guards are among the highest paid people in the U.S.California has more prisons than any other state and it is BIG business.They are so overcrowded that prisoners with 7 years or more are being sent to other states. $47.000 per year per inmate.A guard can make over $100.000 per year and that’s not counting hazard pay, overtime,and benefits.The state and federal government cut the very programs designed to help the little guy.Leaving the cream for the FAT CATS.

  • Will L

    @Dumdum: I’m not sure where you are, but Correctional Officers “prison guards” in State government make closer to $40,000-$45,000. If you’ll post some of these highly paid vacancies, I’ll be glad to share them with staff at the Department of Corrections here.

    Back on topic, there is a lot of sex going on in prisons. It makes good sense to discourage intimacy with an HIV+ inmate since they probably would not share that information themselves. They should have equal access to programs however. Social Service programs are generally funded through federal grants so there would be no fiscal gain by restricting participation as long as the inmate qualified otherwise.

  • tidalpool

    I tend to be conservative in both thought and action. The initial comment about not wanting to curtail these men due to their HIV status made me wonder who was speaking. anyone confined to a state prison has had their freedom curtailed for committing a felony. Many men with in a state penetentiary are not elegible for work release, drug rehab or considered for special housing. My questions would include, are others with fatal infectious diseases confined away from the gen pop? If HIV positive inmates, or inmates with AIDS are routinely kept seperated, why are they not elegible for work release/drug rehab or even housing options if their crime permits? I would be much more comfortable in housing them on a medical unit, and allowed priveleges based on their crime, like everyone else. I am very much opposed to positive men or men with AIDS being in anyway near the gen pop. No one needs to contract this miserable disease, particularly based on assult, rape or homosexual activity under forced conditions.

  • Dumdum

    @Will L: Are you in California? Maybe I did not hear the guard correctly, Or perhaps he was lying or I misunderstood it could have been $100.000 after overtime and hazard pay. And unless you have actually been to prison then you would know that intimacy is more rare than you think it occurs most often with lifers.Sex in prison is more of a homoerotic fantasy than a reality.Although it may vary somewhat from prison to prison.Sex in prison is rare as is rape. The Gay Boy Gangsters are the exception to the rule.And in CALIFORNIA most inmates with HIV and transgendered convicts end up in Vacaville at C.M.F. California Medical Facility.And prison guards in California make $35 to $45 per hour.They are amoral thugs who are little more than glorified baby sitters. Reception is the worst. Mainline is a little better.All of the racial gangs are segregated,and they exercise and perform together in a very militaristic manner it is very scary.Let me be clear sexual assault and homosexual activity is rare.The danger is to those who have HIV, they are kept away from the general population for their protection.


    QUESTION: Is It Wrong For Prisoners With HIV To Be Segregated! YES, very wrong! why don`t they segregate Christian??. Fucking Christian should be exterminated in concentration camps.

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