Blood Testing of Prisoners

A friend who is in prison tells me that they are continually drawing blood from inmates for reasons that are never explained to her. Does anyone know what they would be doing or why they would be doing it?

Drug testing, perhaps?

Illicit Drug testing is not a frequent occurrence in the prison system I work in. And when it’s done, it generally involves urinalysis. It’s not commonly done in the medical unit, either.

Each new inmate admitted into our system gets tested routinely for HIV, Hepatitis B, and gets a general Chemistry 24 panel which assesses electrolytes, blood sugar, renal and liver function, cholesterol, protein, albumin, and a few other odds and ends. In addition, males under the age of 30 get urine tested for gonorrhea and chlamydia.

Inmates coming in on certain medications may get blood levels of those meds, or INR levels to measure anticoagulation, along with complete blood counts. Diabetics get HgbA1C testing, urine micralbuminuria. Some folks get thyroid testing based on medical history or admission medications.

We do not routinely test for illicit drugs on incoming inmates.

And that’s just at the start of their sentence.

Many folks need regular monitoring depending on their disease status, medication list, or past abnormal results.

And a lot of prison systems have trouble communicating to inmates just what these follow-up tests are for.

Is it possible that authorities are “fishing” for positive DNA hits on unsolved crimes?

IANAL, but I wouldn’t think that that would be legal.

Not only would it not be legal, but it would only require one sample (once) rather than repeated blood draws, so it seems very unlikely.

DNA is taken from a cheek swab, and it’s quite legal. In fact, everyone in my state (Wisconsin) who is sentenced to spend time in prison has to give up a DNA sample. It’s the law.

Q the M, are prisoners who are HIV poz segregated from the general population, so they don’t spread it?

Last I checked SC and AL were the only two states left that had mandatory segregation of HIV+ people. The ACLU has been working to get rid of the immediate isolation/segregation of HIV+ people.

Of course that doesn’t mean they can’t be segregated for other reasons or at request.

Not only legal but quite standard.

But as Qadgop noted, DNA testing doesn’t usually involve blood samples.

I’m a little confused about the situation. Are you saying your friend is having blood samples taken from her and the reason isn’t being explained to her? Or are you saying that nobody is explaining to her why other inmates are having blood samples taken? Because if it’s the latter, I’d say the obvious explanation is that it’s none of her business why other inmates are having blood samples taken. And it would be a violation of medical confidentiality to tell her about anyone else’s medical issues.

If it’s the former, she should ask the medical staff. If they give her evasive answers, she should work her way up through the organization and insist on answers. In New York, that would be the Senior Physician, the Director of Health Care, the Deputy Superintendent of Administration, the Superintendent, and then she could start contacting officials at the state level.

Ignorance fought.


Heck no. No need. It’s not that contagious.