ACLU Applauds Alabama Governor for Prison Reform Efforts and Suggests Ways to Further Positive Steps

Affiliate: ACLU of Alabama
April 9, 2003 12:00 am

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ACLU of Alabama
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Statement of Margaret Winter, Associate Director
ACLU National Prison Project


WASHINGTON-The American Civil Liberties Union today commends the actions of Alabama Governor Bob Riley and state legislators who moved to address the crisis in the state’s prison system by approving an emergency appropriations bill for the Alabama Department of Corrections.

In today’s emergency appropriation, the governor and legislature directed new resources to expand community corrections. Alabama’s prisons are dangerously overcrowded, and community corrections programs afford an important opportunity to reduce costs while balancing the need for punishment and rehabilitation. But other problems plague Alabama’s prison system and the governor and legislators should continue in this vein to address them.

The Alabama Department of Corrections has long prohibited an entire class of inmates — those who are HIV-positive — from accessing programs like community corrections. HIV-positive men and women are forbidden from participating with other prisoners in any corrections department programs including those that divert offenders from prison into alternatives to incarceration programs like ‘boot camp’ or ‘work release.’

No other prison system in the nation has a total segregation policy for inmates with HIV/AIDS — including the Tennessee Department of Corrections, which was until recently headed by Alabama’s Corrections Commissioner Donal Campbell.

There is no reason that HIV-positive inmates should be excluded from these important programs, and the state’s decision to keep them in prison while diverting other similarly qualified inmates, is an anachronistic and expensive mistake.

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