Target: William R. Byars, Director of the South Carolina Department of Corrections, and Governor Nikki Haley.
Goal: To end the segregation of HIV/AIDS infected inmates in South Carolina.
South Carolina is the only state left in the Union that segregates prisoners diagnosed with HIV. This practice dates back to the 1980s when AIDS was not very well understood. However, after twenty-plus years of research there is no basis to keeping prisoners segregated based on their medical diagnoses. It is a violation of their human rights. HIV is not transmitted by spitting, through food services or any sort of casual contact. The main way that a person might become infected with HIV/AIDS is through the blood or bodily fluids. In a well controlled prison, these should not be issues. While there is no cure for HIV, there are ways to manage the condition through strict medicine regimens.
The segregation that is subjected upon prisoners within the South Carolina Department of Corrections leads to feelings of humiliation and prejudice from other inmates. On top of this, being segregated in the HIV unit forces inmates to tell their families about their diagnosis before they are ready to. This is a violation of their human rights. Inmates infected with HIV are also sent to high-security units even when convicted with minor crimes. One inmate serving a three-month sentence was housed in a facility used to hold death row inmates.
South Carolina officials defend the policy by saying that it makes it easier to treat HIV affected prisoners. Department of Corrections officials have also admitted that it may not be medically necessary but they still think it best. There is no information that backs up their claims. Sign this petition to demand that the South Carolina Department of Corrections end its segregation policy with regards to HIV positive inmates.
Dear Director William Byars and Governor Nikki Haley,
The South Carolina Department of Corrections policy of segregating HIV positive inmates violates their human rights. By segregating inmates in special wards your system is exposing them to prejudice from their peers as well as a strong feeling of humiliation and depression. Segregation also forces inmates to inform their families of their disease before they are ready. This is a violation of their right to privacy.
There is no defense for segregating HIV patients as there is no medical basis for the policy. HIV/AIDS cannot be transmitted through basic contact, only through transmission of blood or other bodily fluids. In a well controlled prison environment, the number of infections will be able to be managed. I ask that you take action in this matter and make this form of segregation extinct in the United States.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Christian Mehlfuhrer via Fotopedia.