LAWSUIT SAYS HIV INMATE FACILITY INADEQUATE


 The Associated Press
11/21/02 5:53 PM 
CAPSHAW, Ala. (AP) -- A lawsuit conteds the state correctional facility
where prisoners with HIV are held does not provide adequate medical care. 
The lawsuit, filed against the state by Miami attorney David Lipman, claims
12 HIV-positive inmates have died in the 240-person HIV unit of the Limestone Correctional Facility this year. Alabama isolates inmates with the virus that causes AIDS from the non-HIV inmate population. 

Prison officials on Wednesday disputed Lipman's claim, saying only nine
have died and that there is nothing unusual about that number. 

The suit was filed in U.S. District Court in Birmingham on behalf of inmates Antonio Leatherwood, Eric Howard, Jerry Sanford, John Levins and
Micheal Patrick. 

A message left with an Alabama Department of Corrections spokesman on
Thursday seeking comment was not immediately returned. 

Lipman said medical treatment is so bad at the facility that some prisoners
had open sores that were left untreated. He claimed that inmates are housed
in a dilapidated warehouse with holes in the roof and insect and rat infestations. 

Prison warden Billy Mitchem said some HIV inmates suffered a rash or some
type of insect bites earlier this year, but that the cause was unknown. "We haven't seen any spiders in a long time and I haven't heard any complaints about sores in the last two months," he told The Decatur Daily for a Thursday story. 

Mitchem said the prison renovated the warehouse building in 1994-95 and
that it originally housed a community work center, then a chain gang and
then HIV inmates. 

The building houses 200 HIV inmates with 40 more in protective custody. 
"It offers more open room, like a bay area, and a yard for exercise," Mitchem said. "It's a good, solid building. Yes, it undergoes repairs from time to time, but we have maintenance for that." 


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