Skip to comments.J. Christian Adams: Justice Department's Civil Rights Division is out of control
Posted on 08/09/2010 5:05:46 PM PDT by Qbert
Two unpleasant topics of conversation most of us avoid are the epidemic of HIV/AIDS among prison inmates and a variety of sometimes violent events resulting in transmission of the disease. Some states long ago implemented policies to protect the uninfected part of the prison population while providing exceptional medical treatment and counseling to the infected population.
In South Carolina, it has worked so well since 1998 that there has only been a single transmission of HIV/AIDS to a noninfected prisoner. All that may change, however, thanks to a threat from Eric Holder's Justice Department.
South Carolina received a letter from the now-infamous Civil Rights Division that the policy of keeping infected inmates at a designated facility, instead of scattered across the state in the general prison population, may unfairly stigmatize infected prisoners. To the Obama political appointees in the Civil Rights Division, this constitutes discrimination under the Americans With Disabilities Act.
The Justice Department objects to separate living facilities and specialized medical treatment for the HIV/AIDS prison population. Naturally, DOJ has threatened a lawsuit.
Apparently the Justice Department doesn't have the will or resources to follow through in cases against New Black Panther Party thugs brandishing weapons at polling places, but has no difficulty shaking down a state with an effective and humane policy toward prisoners.
"These folks are shameless," says John Ozmint, the no-nonsense director of the South Carolina prison system, referring to the Civil Rights Division at DOJ. He told me that every single new prisoner is tested for AIDS upon incarceration.
Ozmint says half of those testing positive never knew they were infected. The testing policy saves lives because treatment starts immediately, at state expense.
Those testing positive receive treatment at the Broad River Road correctional facility near Columbia. They also receive extensive counseling there. But they are not part of the general prison population.
South Carolina doesn't have to do this. For starters, the state doesn't have to test prisoners. It could simply toss infected inmates unwittingly into the general prison population.
These inmates would be scattered across 28 facilities, all without the specialized care available at the Broad River facility. All of the extra counseling and treatment is also optional, but provided by the state at significant expense.
South Carolina spends more than $2 million a year helping infected inmates in the very program the DOJ is challenging. "We couldn't ever hire specialists at all of the facilities spread across the state like we can in the single Columbia facility," Ozmint told me.
The DOJ is in a lose-lose situation. Even if DOJ wins a lawsuit, sources tell me South Carolina is simply going to cancel all of the special testing, treatment and counseling, thereby saving the state $2 million a year.
Instead, the state will dump infected prisoners into the general population, and nobody will know they have AIDS. Worse, prisoners who come to prison with HIV/AIDS will never know they have the disease and their lives will be shortened because the testing program will end.
Special counseling would end, too. Of course, if DOJ loses a lawsuit, which seems likely, they lose.
"Our policy promotes health and safety. Testing all inmates and treating HIV/AIDS is expensive and many states do not test," Ozmint says. They have identified which "inmates can impose a death sentence by biting, stabbing or merely inflicting a flesh wound with a contaminated weapon and we have eliminated the spread of HIV/AIDS to other inmates or to staff."
Justice raises three primary objections to this effective and humane approach. First, it prevents infected prisoners "from participating in activities and jobs of their choosing." Leave it to bureaucrats in Washington to concoct the grievance that prisoners have choices when it comes to activities in the first place.
Second, DOJ claims the South Carolina program is unconstitutional, something the courts have repeatedly rejected. Once again we see the rule of law falling by the wayside when it comes to decisions of this Civil Rights Division. This is the same Civil Rights Division that was sanctioned more than $4 million during the Clinton administration for bringing cases as frivolous as the one against South Carolina prisons.
Third, with all the pragmatism of a sociology lecture at Harvard, DOJ argues that the separation of the HIV/AIDS prisoners "stigmatizes" the prisoners. Ozmint responds, "Prison is a voluntary activity; breaking the law, earning a criminal record, and wearing 'state issue,' all stigmatize. Since one purpose of prison is punishment, this stigmatization is somewhat intentional." How refreshing.
Ozmint's comments reveal the accelerating divide between highly paid bureaucrats in Washington and people in the rest of the country. Having worked in the Civil Rights Division, I cannot emphasize strongly enough how perfectly correct and completely justified DOJ bureaucrats consider policies like the threat to South Carolina to be. And having lived and worked in the private sector and in parts of America far from the Beltway, I also cannot overstate just how insane such policies sound to most Americans.
It isn't just the South Carolina prisons in the crosshairs of the Civil Rights Division. It is mortgage lenders and insurance companies. It is movie theaters and flat-broke counties that don't print ballots in foreign languages.
It's also Amazon.com, which tried to sell a talking Kindle reader, but Justice said it couldn't because the button to make the Kindle talk didn't have Braille. Never mind that books neither talk nor have Braille buttons telling them to talk.
The business community would be wise to wake up and recognize the immense power the Civil Rights Division exerts over the private sector. Groups like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce should devote resources to understanding and moderating the extremist tendencies of the current Civil Rights Division. Even returning to Clinton-era policies would be an improvement.
Keep in mind that the Clinton Justice Department refused to attack the South Carolina prison plan even though it was pressed to do so. There is now a different species of Democrat in power in Washington.
Even South Carolina Democrats have disclaimed their party brethren in Washington over the DOJ threat. This is the last thing incumbent Democrat John Spratt needs in his contest against Mick Mulvaney in the rural 5th Congressional District -- more proof the administration in Washington has gone bonkers.
"This is about whether you want more AIDS or less AIDS" in the prisons, Ozmint said. All indications are that the South Carolina Department of Corrections isn't going to surrender an inch to the DOJ.
Officials promise to do whatever it takes to defeat a lawsuit. No case brought by the Civil Rights Division is bulletproof. Many defendants incorrectly think they can never defeat the department in litigation, so they capitulate and settle.
As South Carolina may soon demonstrate to the rest of the nation, it pays to fight back.
Holder has to be one of the biggest morons on the face of the earth.
This is the same lame logic that allows special treatment of sex deviates in society, where their deviant lifestyles are FORCED upon the general population, under the catchy/cutesy "diversity" label. While the spread of AIDS and its costs are foisted on MORAL, ADJUSTED, SELF-RELIANT, WORKING taxpayers, to accomodate a voterbase that chooses to engage in immoral and deviant behavior.
Society does not exist to accomodate the deviates, criminals, or non-productive, but rather, to allow ALL the RIGHT to choose their outcomes and be accountable for their OWN actions and their consequences.
Today, the Socialist Elitists have taken over to dictate our lifestyles, our "proper amount of income" (i.e., "more money than they need and should share").
I KNOW the Constitution has no words to the effect that some may be pillaged for the benefit of others, but with Lawyers controlling the judicial system and its Activist Agenda, there is no LEGAL recourse for The People....there is only continued out-of-control taxation.
“may unfairly stigmatize infected prisoners”
There is nothing “unfair” about this “stigma” (that an HIV infected prisoner has a deadly, incurable, infectious disease); it is simply a fact.
And, prison officials cannot ignore another fact: that they are unable to prevent prisoner-on-prisoner rape from occurring in their prisons.
And, therefor it would violate EVERY prisoners’ “civil rights” if they DID NOT take steps to prevent or minimize the possibility, of the transmission of HIV from infected prisoners to ANY prisoner who is not infected.
Minimizing unsupervised contact between HIV infected prisoners and other prisoners is not a move taken AGAINST the HIV infected prisoner, it is a move taken, to PROTECT those prisoners who are not HIV positive.
If Holder is allowed to have his way on this, there ought to be a class action suit, involving every federal prisoner who is not infected with HIV, for Holder’s denial of adequate protection for them from a known, infectious deadly disease.
In fact, you could consider his action as flagrant disregard for their lives, as if, just because they are prisoners they are not deserving of any steps to help prevent the known transmission to them of a deadly virus, when such steps are possible.
You cannot prevent prisoner-on-prisoner rape - it’s going to happen to someone, sometime. But, you can keep HIV infected prisoners from opportunities to infect others. That you can do. So, you do what is doable, “stigma” or not.
The man is a pervert!
“If Holder is allowed to have his way on this, there ought to be a class action suit, involving every federal prisoner who is not infected with HIV, for Holders denial of adequate protection for them from a known, infectious deadly disease.”
Yeah, and I would think that placing the infected individuals in with the non-infected population when HIV testing is available and not used, might constitute “cruel and unusual punishment” for the non-infected individuals.