Alabama has dropped its ban on
HIV-positive inmates participating in work release programs, the AP
The American Civil Liberties Union
(ACLU) had advocated in favor of the change for two decades.
“This is a day that is long overdue
and we are thrilled that it has finally arrived,” Margaret Winter,
associate director of the ACLU National Prison Project, said in a
statement. “There simply has been no justifiable basis to deny
participation in this program to a class of people simply because of
their HIV status.”
Work release programs allow inmates to
hold jobs outside the prison, earning money and gaining valuable
experience. This improves the odds of successful re-entry into
Last week, Alabama Department of
Corrections officials announced the new policy, saying it was the
“right thing” to do.
“We think the time was right,”
Alabama Department of Corrections Commissioner Richard Allen told the
AP. “We've looked at how the attitudes about AIDS has evolved from
people being terrified of it to it being a disease that's difficult
to transmit and one that can be managed.”
“There is no way to overstate the
humiliation these prisoners have suffered for so long, from being
ostracized, isolated and denied participation in a program that has
been available to everyone else,” Olivia Turner, executive director
of the ACLU of Alabama, said.
According to the ACLU, South Carolina
is the only remaining state with such a ban.