New push for HIV law reform comes too late for one convict

1 month 2 weeks 17 hours ago Tuesday, December 04 2018 Dec 4, 2018 Tuesday, December 04, 2018 1:52:00 PM CST December 04, 2018 in News
By: Ian Nickens, KOMU 8 Reporter
loading

JEFFERSON CITY - Advocates for people with HIV are celebrating two representatives' bills aimed at reforming criminal prosecution of HIV patients, but the proposed changes will come too late for some convicts who have already served their time.

That includes Michael Johnson, whom police arrested in 2013 for exposing six men to HIV. He was a student at Lindenwood University at the time.

Johnson's trial was in St. Charles and he was originally sentenced to 30 years in jail. He appealed and was able to get his sentence cut down to 10 years.

According to the Missouri HIV Justice Coalition, under current law, Johnson could have faced up to 96 years in prison.

Johnson was a wrestler at the time, and the Center for HIV Law and Policy said he was a "star."

Johnson is not the only person who has been sentenced to prison for having intercourse while infected with HIV. The reason why these crimes can build up so much prison time is because they are classified as felonies.

The legislation pre-filed by Representatives Holly Rehder, R-Sikeston, and Tracy McCreery, D-St. Louis, would change this.

Right now, the law states a defendant needs to prove they notified their sexual partner about their HIV infection before engaging. If McCreery's bill passes during the regular session, prosecutors will instead have to prove the defendant purposely meant to transmit HIV.

"Most people don't take a notary and a legal document in with them when they decide to engage with sex with somebody," said the Coordinator of Organizational Outreach for Empower Missouri,  Ashley Quinn. "So, I think that's a difficult thing to prove."

Under the proposals, the offense would also be downgraded to a class B misdemeanor. If the person engaging with the defendant actually contracts the disease, it will become a class A misdemeanor.

The other problem with the current laws, according to the Missouri HIV Justice Coalition, is the stigma they create.

"You're safer from a legal liability standpoint if you don't know you have HIV," Quinn said. "But you're not safer in your own goings-on and your interactions with other people in the public."

Rehder's bill would establish a needle-sharing program to try to combat the spread of HIV.

Organizations, like the Missouri HIV Justice Coalition say, HIV is much more treatable than it was in the 1980s, when current criminal HIV laws were written, making them outdated.

"The punishment for the crime greatly outweighs the harm done, basically – if there is any harm done at all," Quinn said.

More News

Grid
List
COLUMBIA - Animal control is urging pet owners to keep their pets inside or in a safe shelter during the... More >>
46 minutes ago Friday, January 18 2019 Jan 18, 2019 Friday, January 18, 2019 5:02:00 PM CST January 18, 2019 in News
COLUMBIA - The Salvation Army is providing food assistance for furloughed federal workers through their food pantry. Food assistance is... More >>
2 hours ago Friday, January 18 2019 Jan 18, 2019 Friday, January 18, 2019 3:27:00 PM CST January 18, 2019 in News
COLUMBIA - A man already facing charges of sexual misconduct for an incident in May 2018 now faces an additional... More >>
3 hours ago Friday, January 18 2019 Jan 18, 2019 Friday, January 18, 2019 1:56:52 PM CST January 18, 2019 in News
JEFFERSON CITY - The Missouri Department of Corrections and Governor Parson announced Friday a new plan to address staffing shortages... More >>
3 hours ago Friday, January 18 2019 Jan 18, 2019 Friday, January 18, 2019 1:50:00 PM CST January 18, 2019 in News
COLUMBIA - An individual has been pronounced dead after a house fire Thursday night at 1203 Lakeview Avenue. Firefighters... More >>
4 hours ago Friday, January 18 2019 Jan 18, 2019 Friday, January 18, 2019 1:46:00 PM CST January 18, 2019 in Top Stories
ST. LOUIS (AP) — A Missouri congressman has apologized for yelling "go back to Puerto Rico" at Democrats on the... More >>
5 hours ago Friday, January 18 2019 Jan 18, 2019 Friday, January 18, 2019 12:08:00 PM CST January 18, 2019 in News
KINGDOM CITY - Callaway County deputies arrested a juvenile in connection to a threat made against students at North Callaway... More >>
7 hours ago Friday, January 18 2019 Jan 18, 2019 Friday, January 18, 2019 10:30:00 AM CST January 18, 2019 in News
HILLSBORO (AP) — An eastern Missouri police chief has resigned and an officer has been terminated amid an investigation into... More >>
8 hours ago Friday, January 18 2019 Jan 18, 2019 Friday, January 18, 2019 9:45:00 AM CST January 18, 2019 in News
HARRISONVILLE (AP) — A lawsuit alleges that a former Missouri high school coach had an inappropriate sexual relationship with a... More >>
8 hours ago Friday, January 18 2019 Jan 18, 2019 Friday, January 18, 2019 9:35:00 AM CST January 18, 2019 in News
MONITEAU COUNTY - Deputies arrested a Tipton man Thursday in connection with a pair of burglaries from around the county.... More >>
8 hours ago Friday, January 18 2019 Jan 18, 2019 Friday, January 18, 2019 8:56:00 AM CST January 18, 2019 in News
COLUMBIA – Across Mid-Missouri, MoDOT crews are making final preparations to ensure they are ready to take on this weekend’s... More >>
10 hours ago Friday, January 18 2019 Jan 18, 2019 Friday, January 18, 2019 7:24:00 AM CST January 18, 2019 in News
COLUMBIA - The Columbia Public Works department is preparing for the winter storm that is set to hit this weekend.... More >>
19 hours ago Thursday, January 17 2019 Jan 17, 2019 Thursday, January 17, 2019 10:01:00 PM CST January 17, 2019 in News
ST. LOUIS (AP) — A man has been charged with child endangerment after his 14-month-old son arrived unresponsive at a... More >>
23 hours ago Thursday, January 17 2019 Jan 17, 2019 Thursday, January 17, 2019 6:04:00 PM CST January 17, 2019 in News
COLUMBIA - The Route AC (Grindstone Parkway) bridge of U.S. Highway 63 will close for 60 days this summer. MoDOT... More >>
1 day ago Thursday, January 17 2019 Jan 17, 2019 Thursday, January 17, 2019 5:34:00 PM CST January 17, 2019 in News
(CNN) -- The State Department is ordering its staff back to work next week, pledging that it will find the... More >>
1 day ago Thursday, January 17 2019 Jan 17, 2019 Thursday, January 17, 2019 5:12:00 PM CST January 17, 2019 in News
COLUMBIA – The Columbia Police Department acknowledged Thursday that the homicide may be connected to an early morning homicide in... More >>
1 day ago Thursday, January 17 2019 Jan 17, 2019 Thursday, January 17, 2019 5:01:00 PM CST January 17, 2019 in News
ST. LOUIS (AP) — A St. Louis newscaster has apologized for what he called an unintentional racial slur while referencing... More >>
1 day ago Thursday, January 17 2019 Jan 17, 2019 Thursday, January 17, 2019 3:30:00 PM CST January 17, 2019 in News
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A 25-year-old Kansas City man is charged with murder in the shooting death of a... More >>
1 day ago Thursday, January 17 2019 Jan 17, 2019 Thursday, January 17, 2019 3:11:00 PM CST January 17, 2019 in News
Columbia, MO
Broken Clouds 36°
6pm 36°
7pm 36°
8pm 35°
9pm 34°