communicable disease, state prisons


Control over the spread of communicable diseases in prisons is a particularly important goal. The prison setting compounded with the high incidence of disease among entering inmates creates a potent combination for the spread of communicable diseases, such as AIDS and tuberculosis. Insufficient state legislation and unresponsive prison administrators have forced prisoners to seek federal judicial relief. However, federal courts have been reluctant to intervene due to the state interests of federalism and separation of powers. The prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment is not limited to specific acts directed at selected individuals, but is equally applicable to general prison conditions that violate standards of decency. Thus, federal courts are permitted to judicially intervene in this arena. Courts should use nonpolitical model standards to guide themselves and legislatures in establishing health norms. Intake screening, record keeping, educating the prison population, periodic exams and hygiene enforcement are examples of such models, which should be utilized.



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