Mar 9, 2007

Arkansas Senate Approves Bill That Would Require Prison Inmates To Receive HIV Test Before Release

Mike Beebe (D) (AP/Pine Bluff Commercial, 3/6).
The Arkansas Senate on Monday voted 35-0 to approve a bill (HB 1444) that would require state inmates to receive HIV tests before being released.). Arkansas Rep. Fred Allen (D) in February introduced a version of the bill that would have required inmates to undergo tests for HIV and other sexually transmitted infections before being paroled. The House public health committee previously tabled the bill but endorsed it after Allen amended the proposed legislation to require only HIV tests for all inmates being released, not just those being paroled. Allen also removed a requirement from the original bill that all Arkansas Department of Correction employees receive an HIV test. In addition, the amended version requires inmates who test positive to be provided with counseling on treatment options. Allen said the tests would cost the state about $34,000 annually, adding that the test would not be a condition for parole (Kaiser Health Disparities Report, 3/1). The bill returns to the House for members to consider amendments and then will go to Gov.
So which is it, first they said inmates would be tested before being paroled, then they go on to say it is not a condition for Parole? Make sense to you - or is it just me? Do you agree with this Bill? Do you think it is something that should be done Nationwide? In My View of It, this is nothing more than another invasion of privacy by the Government and will only raise our taxes higher than they already are. While it is important to know if one is infected with the HIV virus, do we really have the right to force people to be tested? If an Inmate does test positive, what is the next step? Will they get treatment for it or will they just be released and have to fend for themselves? It says they will be "counseled about treatment options," whatever that means. Tell me what you think!

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