Landmark Statement from State Prosecutor Calls for Modernization of HIV Criminal Law in Illinois
In the first statement of its kind, Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez calls for further modernization of Illinois' HIV criminal and national guidelines to limit HIV-related prosecutions under current laws. Alvarez is an inaugural member of CHLP's National Prosecutor's Roundtable on HIV Law and Policy, a joint project with the Association of Prosecuting Attorneys. The State Attorney's office recently forwarded their response to a question from the Windy City Times on her position on HIV criminalization. To read the full statement, see: Influential State’s Attorney Weighs in on Decriminalizing HIV in Illinois
State Advocacy Working Group UpdatesCALIFORNIA
Californians for HIV Criminalization Reform hopes to have a bill introduced in this session of the legislature. If that does not happen, they will work together on an education and outreach strategy to be ready for the 2017 session.
They will hold a community forum in March to address issues of criminalization of sex workers, the most affected group in California. As soon as we know a date, we'll email the PJP membership and post to the PJP Facebook group.
Be on the lookout for an upcoming sign on letter to join their coalition. If you are interested in joining Californians for HIV Criminalization Reform, please contact Craig Pulsipher email@example.com.
Next Meeting: April 13 at 4:00pm (ET)
In mid-February, CHLP Executive Director Catherine Hanssens traveled to Baton Rouge to participate in the Louisiana Health Public Health Institute's Stigma Summit, a well-attended gathering of thoughtful Louisianans from a wide range of backgrounds and organizations. Following that, Catherine represented CHLP at a meeting organized by Sero, with special shout-outs to Deputy Director Robert Suttle and superb moderator Laura McTigue, who pulled the post-summit meeting together. Under Laura's facilitation, Louisiana ended the day with people, including Dorian Alexander, Shaquita Borden, Gina Brown, Chip Eakins, Darnell Ferrell, Olivia Ford, Deon Haywood, Darlene Robertson, and Nia Weeks, to name a few, committed to research, outreach, communication and more. Pictured are (l-r) Nakita Shavers, Shaquita Borden, Deon Haywood, S. Madisa Moore-O'Neal and Nia Weeks.
The group currently is focused on developing consensus on message and goals, while planning strategic first steps to confront the TX assault statutes wrongfully used to arrest, prosecute, and convict PLWH.
6. Ryan White Planning Council
5. Office of Pub. Defender
4. Legacy Community Health
Since formation, group membership has more than doubled with some individuals affiliated with the following organizations from Austin, Dallas, and Houston areas:1. ACLU-Texas
2. AIDS Arms3. End AIDS Now
It's is an exciting time as this growing group of Texas advocates has real passion to advocate for the marginalized and a deep hunger for effective, long-lasting change in Texas.
Next meeting: Friday, April 15 at 1:00 PM (CT)
If you are interested in information about HIV criminalization or actively participating in the Texas working group, please contact Stephen Williams at firstname.lastname@example.org.
CHLP assists criminal defense attorneys in HIV exposure/transmission cases. We are providing help in cases in a number of states across the country. Among the cases we currently are involved in are the Michael Johnson and Shyteek Johnson cases in Missouri and New York, and a case in Ohio.With generous pro bono assistance from the Gibbons PC law firm, CHLP with other national and state HIV/medical and racial justice organizations, will be submitting a motion for leave to file an amicus curiae brief in the appeal of Michael Johnson’s conviction to the Missouri Court of Appeals, Eastern Division. The brief will argue a number of important issues, including that the sentence of 31½ years is cruel and unusual punishment, in violation of the Eighth Amendment, because it is so grossly disproportionate to the offense, due to the change in life expectancy and quality of life for those living with HIV.
With similar pro bono assistance from the law firm of Clifford Chance US LLP, CHLP, along with the National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors; Jeffrey Birnbaum, M.D.; Neal Rzepkowski, M.D., filed a motion for leave to file an amicus curiae brief in the Supreme Court of New York, Appellate Division, Fourth Department in the case of Shyteek Johnson (a/k/a Nushawn Williams). Mr. Johnson was indefinitely civilly committed under Article 10 of the New York State Mental Hygiene Law after fully completing his criminal sentences. The motion was opposed by the Attorney General of the State of New York. A decision on the motion should be made in the coming week. Among the issues argued will be that an individual’s positive HIV status cannot form the basis for the determination that that person is a dangerous sex offender warranting indefinite commitment.
The case in Ohio involves a young woman who has been wrongly and unjustly charged with two counts of felonious assault for allegedly not disclosing her HIV positive status to a sexual partner. The case is being prosecuted in the same court that sentenced Virginia Davis, also a young woman convicted of similar charges (who had a low or undetectable viral load and did not transmit HIV to the complainants), to seven years incarceration. The prosecutor in that case had recommended four to six years.
Our assistance includes counseling defendants and their families, Identifying criminal defense attorneys for defendants, providing legal and trial strategy advice and HIV-specific resources to defense attorneys, identifying and working with medical and scientific experts, drafting sections of court submissions, and submitting amicus briefs.
If you are aware of anyone charged in an HIV exposure or transmission case, please refer them to our website, www.hivlawandpolicy.org and/or have them or their lawyer contact CHLP (212-430-6733) for assistance.