Even a court of law in 2008 can get caught up in AIDS panic (via BTB):
Prosecutors convinced a Dallas County jury this week that HIV-positive saliva should be considered a deadly weapon.
But the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and countless doctors say no one has ever contracted the virus from spit.
And that's why several AIDS advocacy groups and many individuals contend that the 35-year sentence Willie Campbell received Wednesday for spitting into the mouth and eye of a Dallas police officer was excessive.
Maybe it's the current state of sex education under the Bush admin, but you'd think that people who graduated from law school would know that HIV can't be transmitted through saliva. Apparently not.
Campbell got 35 years because, according to the police report, while being picked up for public intoxication (read: Existing While Homeless), he spat on the officers and said he had HIV.
The prosecution's logic here is ridiculous. They say that anything with any risk of death is a deadly weapon:
But Dallas County prosecutor Jenni Morse, who handled Mr. Campbell's case, said any risk level is sufficient for the deadly weapon finding used during the trial.
"No matter how minuscule, there is some risk," said Ms. Morse. "That means there is the possibility of causing serious bodily injury or death," the legal definition of a deadly weapon.
Considering that saliva has never been shown to transmit HIV, this is a patently ridiculous claim. The other prosecutor says it's about intent:
"If you look at the facts of this case, it was clear that the defendant intended to cause serious bodily injury," said Mr. Watkins. "There's an intent factor.
The guy was also drunk at the time. Considering his behavior and that he was homeless, there's a good chance he's mentally ill as well. Are they taking his word while drunk as sound medical evidence that HIV can be transmitted through saliva over the studies conducted by the Centers for Disease Control?
But this isn't about risk, since there are lots of activities with a whole lot more risk of killing someone that don't get 35 years in prison. And considering how Texas requires statewide abstinence-only education, they can't really be in a position to judge others when it comes to STD transmission.
This is about the way our society treats the homeless, as well as the panic that still exists around HIV. Instead of getting treatment and a home, he's getting prison because some people just didn't want to see him drunk in the street but also didn't want to help him get back on his feet again.
In fact, the prosecutors pretty much admit just that:
"You can see why we thought that we needed to get this guy off the streets," said Jenni Morse, who prosecuted the current case.
Off the streets, but not with treatment or an appropriate shelter. It's just sick.