STATE PRISON HIV CARE 'INHUMANE'
 By Deangelo McDaniel and Holly Hollman 
DAILY Staff Writers
dmcdaniel@decaturdaily.com · 340-2469 

CAPSHAW - A paralegal for the Southern Center for
Human Rights said conditions for dispensing medication
to HIV-positive inmates at Limestone Correctional
Facility are inhumane and deplorable. 

Armed with an order from a federal judge, Lisa Zahren
and a photographer were allowed this morning to film
how prison officials hand out medication to HIV
inmates. 

"It's absolutely shocking that they wake up people who
are sick at 3 a.m. and make them wait outside to get
medication," Zahren said. 

The Southern Center filed the lawsuit in November in
the Northern District Court of Alabama on behalf of
five HIV-positive inmates. The lawsuit, in part, alleges that the state denies adequate medical treatment to AIDS inmates. 

The state houses all its known HIV-positive inmates at
Limestone Correctional Facility. 

Warden Billy Mitchem would not allow a DAILY reporter to tour the AIDS area because of the ongoing lawsuit. 

Zahren said they had to get permission from a federal
judge to film the medication dispensing process. She
and the photographer arrived at the facility this
morning at about 2:30 before guards woke inmates at 3.
 

The inmates stand outside in a line, some for as long
as 45 minutes, to receive their medication, Zahren said. 

One inmate, an amputee, was in a wheelchair, she said.

"I had on proper clothing, and I was cold," the
paralegal said. "We could see that some of the inmates
were cold." 

Zahren said prison officials required the inmates to
take their medication at the window. 

She said giving medication in this manner does more
harm than good because the Food and Drug Administration requires patients to take some of their
AIDS medicine with food. 

"This morning, they served breakfast after pill call,
but the inmates had already taken the pills," Zahren
said. 

She added: "This is one of the most outrageous things
I have ever heard of...how they wake sick prisoners up
in the middle of the night to make them stand in line
outside in the cold for an hour to receive their medication." 

An audit of the facility supports some of the claims in the lawsuit. 

Jacqueline Moore and Associates of Chicago visited
Limestone Correctional Facility on Oct. 1 and Nov. 8. 

The company said the death rate of AIDS-infected inmates is more than twice the national average. 

The Birmingham-based company NaphCare is the prison's health management contractor. Company President Lee Harrison called the audit misleading. He said the death rate for AIDS inmates is actually one-third the rate for the general population. 

The audit said Limestone houses AIDS inmates in an old
warehouse with high, leaky ceilings and double bunk
quarters that foster infection. Mitchem has said the
warehouse is a solid building that was renovated in
1994 or 1995. 

The audit also said chronic-care inmates go as long as
seven to eight months without seeing a doctor. 

Zahren's organization, which is based in Atlanta, filed the lawsuit after the audit reported that health care at the HIV prison at Capshaw was "dangerous and extremely poor." 


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