Special Inmate Populations
1. HIV in the Prison Population
The research (Braithwaite & Arriola, 2003) provides a background on the prevalence of HIV in the prison population, causes of prevalence of HIV among inmates, and reasons for the failure of intervention programs. The article explains that HIV is more prevalent among young colored men, which also coincides with the poorer state of health of this minority population. The higher prevalence of HIV infection among young colored men in prison is due to their engagement in high-risk behaviors even before becoming part of the prison population including unsafe sexual intercourse, drug addiction, alcohol abuse, homelessness, lack of education, and unemployment that when taken together increase the probability of acquiring HIV. This means that young men of color have a higher probability of acquiring HIV in the community before joining the prison population. Although community based interventions are necessary for prevention, interventions in the correctional system also becomes important to ensure the treatment of HIV and prevent the spread of the virus in the penitentiaries. A number of educational or information interventions and treatment programs have been in place but these have not achieved the targeted rate of success because these programs are largely ignored by prisoners. One reason is the limited access to treatment services due to limited budget so that only a limited number of prisoners are able to receive treatment. Another reason is the stigma associated with admitting and discussing HIV infection resulting to the non-admission of HIV infection. There is need to assess existing interventions and develop prison programs that address accessibility and stigma.
2. Special Prison Populations in Texas including Census Data
Based on available, the special prison population in Texas coincides with the demographic classifications of prison inmates. The Texas Board of Criminal Justice (2006) used four classifications of prisoners, which are 1) gender, 2) age, 3) race, and 4) crime committed. It is also within these categories that the special prison population is determined. In the case of gender, 2006 statistics show that the prison population comprised of 127, 112 men and 8, 171 women so that only 6.4 percent of the prison population are women. Women inmates make up the first special prison population in Texas because these have special needs such as health care in case of pregnancies. With regard to age, the Texas Board of Criminal Justice (2006) provides that there were 129 prison inmates, out of which 121 are males and 8 are females. Juveniles comprise the second special prison population in Texas because young people involved different intervention programs relative to adults. Within the juvenile group, the female population also comprises a sub-group of special prison population because of the aggregation of their special needs as juvenile females. In relation to race, the Texas Board of Criminal Justice (2006) reports that 37.6 percent of the total prison population are blacks, 31.9 percent are whites, 30 percent are Hispanic, and the remaining percentage are other ethnic groups. Race becomes a consideration for special prison population because of minority overrepresentation requiring the need to focus on prison programs that address the justifications of minority overrepresentation. In relation to crime, of special interest are sexual offenders comprising 18, 661 of the total prison population (Texas Board of Criminal Justice, 2006) because of the special condition of registration for their release as well as rehabilitations and drug offenders because of health issues such as HIV infection and drug rehabilitation. The determination of special prison population supports the determination of special intervention programs.
3. Texas' mechanism for incarcerating juvenile offenders under the age of 17 who are charged, convicted, and sentenced as adults.
Mauro and Council (2005) explains that the decision in Roper v Simmons had the strongest impact on Texas because the decision, which made illegal the execution of the inmates convicted as juveniles, is contrary to the previous practice in Texas of allowing the execution of inmates convicted as juvenile offenders. This meant that previously, juvenile offenders convicted in the Texas criminal justice system mixed with the general population because these were considered as adults. Due to this Roper case, some changes are subject to consideration in Texas such as the enactment of a law that reflects the Roper decision. This would mark changes in incarceration policies of juvenile offenders convicted as adults. The effect of the Roper decision is the commutation of the death penalty sentence to life imprisonment in the case of juveniles convicted as adults. One way of doing this is by getting a commutation order from the governor through the recommendation of the Texas Board of Criminal Justice pending the passage of state law on the matter. However, without legislative support, existing incarceration mechanisms apply except that juveniles tried as adults would form part of the general prison population instead of the death row population separated from the general population. There would also receive treatment as part of the general prison population.
Braithwaite, R. L. & Arriola, K. R. J. (2003). Male prisoners and HIV prevention: A call for action ignored. American Journal of Public Health, 93(5), 759-763.
Mauro, T. & Council, J. (2005). Texas Expected to Commute 28 Death Sentences to Life in Prison. Law.com. Retrieved February 26, 2008, from http://www.law.com/jsp/article.jsp?id=1109859536522.
Texas Board of Criminal Justice. (2006). Statistical Report Fiscal Year 2006. Retrieved February 26, 2008, from http://www.tdcj.state.tx.us/publications/executive/FY_2006_Statistical_Re ort.pdf.
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