According to Sentenced to Stigma, a joint report of the ACLU and Human Rights Watch released last month, prisoners in designated HIV units in South Carolina and Alabama face stigma, harassment and systemic discrimination that amount to inhuman and degrading treatment.
Only South Carolina and Alabama continue the policy and practice, despite all public health, human rights, and practical arguments against it.
In South Carolina, HIV inmates are forced to wear armbands or other indicators of their HIV status, are forced to eat and worship separately, and are denied equal participation in prison jobs, programs and re-entry opportunities that facilitate their successful transition back into society.
There is no medical justification for segregation, which in fact causes harm that extends well beyond a person’s prison term, and only serves to inflame prejudices against people with HIV. The World Health Organization, the National Commission on Correctional Health Care and other experts agree there is no medical basis for segregating prisoners with HIV within correctional facilities or for limiting access to jobs, education or vocational programs available to others.
South Carolina is also the only state in the union to prohibit prisoners with HIV from participating in work release programs, and the ACLU has called for a halt to these policies.