Tag Archives: poynter institute

More than 22,000 inmates are HIV-positive

Poynter’s Al Tompkins spotted a new U.S. Department of Justice report (PDF) on HIV in American prisons. Among other things, the report finds 22,000 HIV-positive inmates, a number which Tompkins points out may be even higher because fewer than half of American states test every inmate that comes through their doors. About 5,672 prisoners have confirmed AIDS, a disease whose complications killed 130 inmates in 2007, the most recent year for which numbers are available.

Here’s Tompkins quoting some particularly interesting numbers from DOJ:

Prison in Huntsville, Texas. Photo by J. Stephen Conn via Flickr.

The Justice Department said just three states account for 46 percent of all of the HIV cases in state prisons:

“Florida (3,626), New York (3,500) and Texas (2,450) reported the largest number of HIV/AIDS cases. While these three states account for 24 percent of the total state custody population, together they account for 46 percent of HIV/AIDS cases in state prison. New York continues to report large decreases (down 450) in the number of HIV/AIDS cases. Notable increases between 2007 and 2008 were in California (up 246), Missouri (up 169) and Florida (up 166).

The report breaks down how many HIV cases are in each state, by gender, how manyAIDS-related deaths were in each state and the circumstances under which inmates were tested.

Tompkins: Don’t reward station for ethical breach

Al Tompkins, author of the Poynter Institute’s popular Al’s Morning Meeting blog, questions the Radio-Television News Directors Association’s decision to present a Maine TV station with an Edward R. Murrow award for a series based on a trip to China that was funded by the Maine Foundation for Cardiac Surgery.

In the case of WGME, the travel was not frivolous. It highlighted very good work being done by local doctors to save lives, and it was the type of story that could generate community support. The station said it could not have afforded to cover the story if it had to pay its own tab, but I don’t buy it.

In general, news organizations should not allow the phrase “In these tough economic times …” to become reason to bend ethical rules that have guided our craft through decades of good economic times.

Moreover, the national Edward R. Murrow contest should represent the peak of ethical behavior. If RTNDA does not enforce its code of ethics in its national contest, then it misses a key opportunity to say what the association stands for.