The Year of Moving Forward

The Year of Moving Forward
At our 4 person wedding reception in DC

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Fair(er) Treatment for HIV Inmates

Here is what goblins and ghouls saw when they approached the house last night.













Here is what they saw when the door opened.














Halloween is fun and the kids (and adults) loved it.

HIV Prisoners in Alabama

One group of people that could be thought of as the most forgotten is prisoners with HIV. In Alabama male prisoners who are HIV positive are kept at Limestone, and females at Tutwiler. Up until the present, the prisoners have been treated differently because of their HIV status, with no medical reason to do so.

For instance, female prisoners were not allowed to eat or socialize with the other female prisoners. They could not attend worship services with the others, or sing in the choir.

When the HIV positive women left their cells, to go to the library or prison post office, for example, all other prisoners were locked in their cells.

The other female prisoners had large areas available for visiting with family members and their children, the HIV postive prisoners had to visit in a tiny room.

An article in today's Birmingham news tells us that HIV inmates are being granted more social freedom.

They will now be allowed to visit with family members more openly, and will be able to attend religious services and eat with with other inmates.

But the Birmingham News does not tell the whole story. They make it sound as though the prison commissioner, Richard Allen, came up with these improvements out of the goodness of his heart. The truth of the matter is the ACLU of Alabama has been applying pressure on the corrections departments for a long time to get these changes in place.

Until this happened, Alabama was the only state in the nation that segregated prisoners with HIV from the general population for participation in rehab and other programs. HIV postitive prisoners are barred from participation in work release programs or prison factory jobs based solely on the fact that they have HIV. They were denied opportunity to exercise.

For months the ACLU of Alabama has been interviewing prisoners and workers at Tutwiler and Limestone to gather information. Only because of the threat of litigation did the commissioner make these policy changes. And the changes that have taken place do not address all of the problems in the prisons regarding HIV. More work is being done to see that these prisoners are not further stigmitized because of their HIV status.

This is just one of the areas that the ACLU of Alabama is working. Often the work is that which no one else would do, looking our for those that some would call "the least of these" that society is neglecting. Why that sounds like Jesus talking! The ACLU, thinking like Jesus!

Be thankful that the ACLU of Alabama is here, to protect the constitutional rights of us all.

4 comments:

nikki said...

Great blog, Joe! I especially like the part comparing the ACLU to Jesus. ;)

Kristen said...

Joe, I live over in Lakewood, and last night we had truckloads of trick-or-treaters come over. Some had no costumes on. Some had up to 4 bags to collect candy for their "brother" or "sister" or "mama." Some demanded certain types of candy. Some came back multiple times. Some were up to 25-30 years old. Did you get any of this over on your side of town?

Joe Openshaw said...

Yes we did. Some had two bags and wanted candy for little brother or sister in the car.

One guy about 15 years old asked if I remembered him...comes here every year..said he would see me next year.

No multiple visits, though, I think.

It's all just fun, though.

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