BATON ROUGE, La. — A Louisiana parish jail has agreed to pay $27,500 to compensate an HIV-infected prisoner for isolating him in segregated housing for approximately six months because he has the virus, according to a settlement agreement Thursday.
The U.S. Justice Department’s agreement with the Union Parish Detention Center also says the jail posted information on the prisoner’s cell door that could allow others to infer his HIV status. On at least one occasion, a jail staff member deliberately revealed the prisoner’s HIV status to another detainee, it adds.
“This disclosure exposed the detainee to the risk of harassment, stigmatization, and other harm from detainees or staff who hold unfounded fears or prejudices about individuals with HIV,” the agreement says.
The Justice Department said in a statement that the detention center cooperated with its investigation of the disability discrimination allegations. The agreement was reached without a lawsuit being filed.
The jail’s warden, Gary Copes, didn’t immediately respond to a phone message left with an assistant warden.
The detention center is in Farmerville, about 35 miles northwest of Monroe. The 350-bed correctional facility houses men and women serving jail sentences as well as federal pre-trial detainees, according to its website.
Segregating prisoners with HIV is medically unnecessary, the settlement agreement says. The jail has agreed it won’t segregate detainees on the basis of their HIV status. The jail also agreed to adopt nondiscrimination policies and train all staff annually on HIV and nondiscrimination requirements under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.
Acting Assistant Attorney General John Gore of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division said the agreement ensures the detention center “will respect the right of individuals with HIV to equal treatment under the law.”
“Segregation of detainees with HIV in jails or prisons is unlawful, subjects individuals to unwarranted stigma and harm, and will not be tolerated by this Justice Department,” Gore said in a statement.