Daniel Hay Lewis, charged by the Broward Sheriff’s Office with criminal transmission of HIV despite the fact that he does not have the virus, is no longer in jail.
Michael Rajner — legislative director for the Florida GLBT Democratic Caucus and a member of Broward Sheriff Al Lamberti’s Council for Diversity and Equal Opportunity — writes to The Florida Independent:
Sheriff Lamberti called me late [Tuesday] afternoon to advise that tomorrow his office will be requesting the Broward County State Attorney’s Office to drop the charge relating to criminal transmission of HIV. He confirmed the Mr. Lewis’s HIV-test came back negative.
Sheriff Lamberti again committed to review and develop steps to better educate the Broward County law enforcement community on the harmful and stigmatizing impact of HIV-criminalization.
The Sheriff’s Office has yet to respond to repeated calls from the Independent to discuss allegations that deputies who arrested Lewis lied and details of the sheriff’s plans to better educate local law enforcement personnel on how HIV is transmitted, especially when criminal transmission of HIV charges are involved.
The case of Daniel Hay Lewis, charged with criminal transmission is not unusual. In fact, according to Catherine Hanssens, executive director of the Center for HIV Law and Policy, the United States “prosecutes more people on the basis of their HIV status than any other country in the world.”
According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, in 2008 Florida had the largest number of inmates with HIV/AIDS in custody of state or federal prison authorities (more than 3,600). The data shows that while 3.6 percent of Florida’s inmates were HIV positive, the U.S. average was 1.5 percent.
On Tuesday, a Broward County court granted a motion filed by public defender Jason Blank agreeing to release Lewis to the services of Pre-Trial Release.
The motion said:
Defendant’s bonds were increased due to the nature of the charges which Defendant has information to show were falsely alleged. The increase of his bonds goes to show nothing more than a discriminatory practice against those allegedly infected by HIV.
Blank told the Independent last week that “it is clear that the officer’s sworn allegations of Daniel’s infection with HIV is not only a lie and highly illegal, but is being used to cover-up the excessive use of force during his arrest.”