Header, the Administration of the Honorable Lincoln C. Almond
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  2002 Signature
2002 Veto
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July 3, 1995


In accordance with the provisions of R.I. Gen. Laws § 43-1-4, I am transmitting herewith, with my disapproval, 95-H-5267, Substitute A, "An Act Relating To The Department of Corrections."

This act would require annual testing of all inmates at the Department of Corrections, both sentenced and awaiting trial, for HIV and hepatitis. The bill mandates that the testing be done on an annual basis for both infectious diseases and that all correctional staff be notified of individuals testing positive. The bill, however, raises serious health policy and fiscal concerns.

The Departments of Corrections and Health are opposed to the bill because the disclosure requirement is not medically necessary and the provisions of the bill are inconsistent with acceptable standards of health policy, especially as it relates to HTV testing. DOH strongly believes that testing of inmates will not prevent transmission in the prison setting, nor will it prevent transmission to correctional staff. DOH's position is that universal precautions are more likely to prevent transmission; that is, every inmate in contact with correctional staff should be treated as if they are infected either with HIV or hepatitis.

In fact, DOC, in conjunction with DOH and the Brown University School of Medicine, have developed the first collaborative program for the testing and treatment of inmates with HIV infection. DOC employs an infectious disease treatment team including a public health education specialist and an infectious disease fellow from the Brown University Medical School which provide state-of-the-an testing and treatment services for inmates. Furthermore, DOC provides both pre-service and in-service training to all correctional staff on the issues of infectious diseases including HIV and hepatitis. Moreover, DOC has initiated a hepatitis vaccination program for all staff as recommended by OSHA. In short, the State of Rhode Island already has a model program in place which not only provides educational and preventive programs for correctional staff, but also provides treatment for inmates infected with these diseases.

In addition to the aforementioned concerns, implementation of the bill would be costly - estimated by DOH and DOC to exceed $400,000 per year.

For the foregoing reasons, I disapprove of this legislation and respectfully urge your support of this veto.


Lincoln Almond