HIV and AIDS in Haiti Prisons – Virus Example

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"HIV and AIDS in Haiti Prisons"  is a great example of a paper on the virus. For many decades, the numbers of prisoners in Haiti have swelled up as a result of a government effort to curb the crime rate that has engulfed the country. Nevertheless, little has been known about the health conditions of inmates an aspect that has deteriorated the living conditions of the prisoners. With the increased concern on correction programs and living conditions of the prisoners, statistics have been released showing the overall number of people living with HIV behind bars.

This has increased the interests of non-governmental organizations on how to intervene in order to reduce these escalating conditions. According to Dr. May who has taken a mission of helping the inmates fight HIV/Aids spread in the prisons, the numbers of prisoners have swelled up to more than four thousand with the infrastructure remaining undeveloped.   It is, therefore, important to address this problem in order to come up with a lasting solution on how to curb the spread of the disease. Despite some of the challenges having been addressed a lot need to be undertaken in order to reduce death cases being experienced as a result of increased HIV/Aids infections (Barton, 2007). Previously, conditions in Haiti prisons were so inhumane and cruel.

Prisons were overcrowded an aspect that increased sexual contact between the prisoners thereby increasing HIV/Aids spread. In addition, women prisoners were not segregated from their male prisoners. This condition increased the rate of sexual abuse which resulted to spread of HIV/Aids. To make matters worse children and adolescents were put in the same cells with the adults irrespective of their gender.

This increased chances of sexual harassment by the older prisoners. Although there was an effort by the government to decongest the prisons, a major setback that was making the effort futile is the lack of adequate resources to improve basic infrastructures that were necessary to decongest the prisons. In addition, there lacked well-drafted laws that protected the rights of prisoners an aspect that left the prisoners unprotected leading them to poor living conditions (Rotberg 1997, p. 203). This was despite the laws stating clearly that children should be housed in a separate facility constructed mainly for youth offenders. Steps were taken to address the problem One of the major steps that the government took was meant to reduce the rate of congestion in prisons.

This was through the construction of more cells and prisons so that the number of prisoners that were to be housed in a single cell could be decreased. In addition, the government set up policies that prohibited prisons from housing people of the same gender in the same cells in order to reduce sexual violence in the cells.

It also increased the number of wardens to increase the level of security in the prisons (Rotberg 1997, p. 204). Another major step that was undertaken was to reduce the Pre-trial period. Although this move has not been achieved, this reduced the number of prisoners as cases were fastened an aspect that reduced the numbers of detainees. The law indicated that a person was to be tried in forty-eight hours after arrest. Nevertheless, this goal is far from being attained as one out of three prisoners has not been tried.

This condition has made it hard for the government to offer high-quality services due to the number of prisoners that are increasing daily (Barton,   2007). The government of Haiti took an initiative that was aimed at improving the living conditions of the prisoners. This was through improving the levels of sanitation and specifically water and drainage system. In order to attain this mission of ensuring that the living conditions of the prisoners are improved, the government partners with international bodies such as USAID and human rights watchdogs in the country.

In an effort to improve the penal system, USAID was awarded $18 million to spearhead legal reforms such as equipment procurement, training of the officers, publications of different codes, and improve justice ministry. These reforms were undertaken nationally because every prison in Haiti had very poor living conditions and the national judiciary needed quick reforms (USAID 2012). The main beneficiary was the prisoners, prison warders, government and judiciary at large. In addition, the prison department was also to benefit largely because the move was to reduce the pressure that they have been going through in trying to offer services.

Partners who participated in bringing in reforms were also beneficiaries as they aimed at improving living conditions in the prisons. This move could, therefore, be used as an example to other countries that were aiming to achieve prison reforms (Rotberg 1997). Results Following increased effort by different stakeholders on improving the prison system in Haiti, the number of inmates per cell reduced tremendously an aspect that reduced HIV/Aids spread. The effort also reduced sexual abuse that was previously being experienced by children and women an aspect that reduced the spread of sexually related diseases.

In addition, the operations in the judicial system improved following persistent by various reform groups (Rotberg 1997, p. 207). One of the main challenges that faced the whole reform system was the lack of adequate resources to thoroughly spearhead the process. During the reform process, the government was facing other commitments that diverted its attention from prison reforms. These included political commitments, social and economic commitments. This prevented the government from fully concentrating on penal reforms an aspect that led to a loophole in the whole process.

This challenge was met through the inclusion of international bodies on human rights who undertook the mandate of ensuring that the process was carried out efficiently (Rotberg 1997, p. 206). Challenges I encountered One of the major challenges is varying statistics from secondary data. Different bodies that carried research on prison reforms came up with varying data making it hard to come up with the appropriate conclusion. This challenge was tackled by comparing different data and averaging to come up with the closest data possible. Lesson learned The major lesson that I learned is that despite the effort made by different stakeholders in the prison sector, major reforms are also needed to ensure that HIV/Aids spread is eradicated completely.

What worked well is the separation of prisoners based on gender and age. Nevertheless, population reduction in the cell needs more effort. In the future, locking inmates of the same gender in the same cell should be highly avoided as this increase sexual harassment and spread of HIV/Aids. Beyond results The action that was taken by the government and other stakeholders were positive and sustainable.

Nevertheless, loopholes that have been identified in the process e. g. a high number of inmates per cell provide an opportunity to accelerate more reforms in the sector. The only thing that is required to be able to take advantage of this opportunity is resources, technical know-how, and goodwill from all stakeholders.

References

Barton, A. 2007, August 11. Heroes of HIV. Retrieved June 21, 2012, from http://http://alt.coxnewsweb.com/palmbeachpost/hiv/articles-haiti-prison.html

Rotberg, R. I. 1997. Haiti Renewed: Political and Economic Prospects. Massachusetts: Brookings Institution Press.

USAID 2012. Haiti-Health Program to reduce and control contagious diseases. Retrieved June 21, 2012, from http://http://www.usaid.gov/news-information/fact-sheets/haiti-health-program-reduce-and-control-contagious-diseases

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