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Federal Inmate Claims AIDS Treatments Withheld At Public And Private Jails

On Monday, the Tampa Bay Times reported that a 42-year-old federal inmate claims he has been denied treatment for AIDS at two different jails in Florida — one of which has been privatized — for the past several months.

Kelby McCrillis said he received treatments for AIDS over the past thirteen years, but has had his medications discontinued since his incarceration at the Citrus County Detention Center and the Pinellas County Jail.

As a result, McCrillis maintains he has suffered “night sweats, increased blood pressure and lymphoid swelling” and that the jails “pushed his treatment off on the next facility to avoid incurring costs.” His lawyer believes his treatment constitutes cruel, excessive and life-threatening behavior on behalf of jail officials.

What makes McCrillis’ case particularly interesting is that he is actually a federal inmate. He is being held in county jails because they are under contract with the US Marshal’s Service. He has been primarily incarcerated at the Citrus County Detention Facility, which is operated by Corrections Corporation of America. There was a hearing today to discuss McCrillis’ claims before U.S. District Judge James S. Moody Jr.

While denying jail inmates treatment for HIV/AIDS is serious, it’s not all that uncommon. Some private inmate medical companies and facility operators enter into contracts with governments that contain specific exemptions for HIV/AIDS treatments and other severe illnesses which they claim are ‘rare’ among prison populations — despite studies by the Bureau of Justice Statistics and the Center for Disease Control finding the incarcerated suffer from HIV/AIDS disproportionately as compared to the general public.

Aside from the fact that they are typically overcrowded and cash-strapped, one reason why jails don’t provide treatment for HIV/AIDS is that they tend to have high turn-over rates and their inmates see shorter stays in those facilities than individuals confined to prisons. However that does not appear to be the case with McCrillis, who is technically a federal inmate. Therefore, his situation appears to represent a potentially deadly loophole in medical care for federal inmates in his position, who are being held long-term in facilities equipped for short term incarceration.

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Brian Sonenstein

Brian Sonenstein

Publishing Editor at Shadowproof and columnist at Prison Protest.