20th Annual State Criminal Justice Network Conference
August 18-20, 2021 | Held Virtually
This panel examines the continued criminalization of HIV and other health status, the undermining of the central principle that criminal intent be required for criminal liability, and efforts to reform these discriminatory laws.
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NACDL opposes all laws that base criminal liability and/or penalty enhancements on one’s HIV status rather than on the intent to harm another individual. NACDL supports the repeal of such criminal laws as fundamentally unfair and unjust. Recognizing that outright repeal can result in the abusive use of existing statutes, NACDL also supports modernization of these criminal laws to incorporate strong principles of intent and proportional punishment.
Brief of The Center for HIV Law & Policy, National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, et al. in Support of Petitioner (on petition for writ of certiorari).
Argument: Involuntary commitment based on an individual’s positive HIV status is in conflict with this Court’s and courts of appeals’ rulings and with the minimum due process standards for a civil confinement as a dangerous sex offender. Any reliance on an individual’s HIV status as a basis for civil confinement as a dangerous sex offender runs counter to federal court precedent interpreting the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act. This case raises unique and important public policy questions, in that reliance on HIV as a factor in a sex offender commitment proceeding reflects a major departure from the purpose of indefinite civil commitment and impermissible state reinforcement of the continuing stigma associated with HIV.