Alabama has dropped its ban on HIV-positive inmates participating in work release programs, the AP reported.

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 society.

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.