The consequences of legal violence and all these laws and institutions working simultaneously is that people can be punished more harshly, and in diverse, far-reaching ways that extend beyond just their official sentence, if they are prosecuted. Penality is just another word referring to the punishment of people.
All people who are labeled criminal in Canada are subject and vulnerable to violence. But people who are labeled as criminal in relation to HIV non-disclosure and/or exposure face a environment of amplified punishment.
This amplification of punishment begins as soon as the charges are threatened or applied and does not relate to a guilty verdict.
Twelve of the people I spoke with were charged with aggravated sexual assault – which is one of the most serious charges in the criminal code. Two of the people were threatened with charges by police, but charges were never laid. Seven of the people are now registered sex offenders. As a result of being on the registries they cannot get the jobs they had previous experience doing, which means their economic security is constantly threatened far after serving a sentence.
I have tried to explicate a typology to help analyze the punishment that people face.
Some forms of punishment are formal and sanctioned and can include forms of surveillance and regulation that are institutionally enacted into people. Punishment here is focused on reducing of capacities and risks. It is organized around forms of containment, regulation, and compromising personal autonomy security and safety. An example from this project would be people being housed in administrative segregation (which is 23.5 hours a day in a cell alone) often stated as an extension of protective custody and a way to protect the person from the violence of other incarcerated people.
Informal forms of punishment are interpersonal, causal and daily forms of stigma, discrimination, abuse and violence that are enabled after someone is institutionally marked as a criminal in relation to HIV specific crime. Building on the example of administrative segregation, an informal punishment would be corrections guards leaking information about a person’s HIV status and sexual assault charges to other prisoners, thus putting a that person in a context where they will be regularly and severely beaten due to having HIV and a rape charge. Beatings which ultimately then lead to that person formally being put into administrative segregation.
So you can see that these two forms of penality, formal and informal, rely on each other and are intertwined in different ways.
And it is important to note that police, prison guard and prisoner beatings were indicated numerous times by the people I spoke with.