[Pnews] Federal Court Orders DOC to Provide Hepatitis C Treatment to Mumia Abu-Jamal

Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Fri Jan 6 15:46:54 EST 2017

      MEDIA RELEASE: Federal Court Orders DOC to Provide Hepatitis C
      Treatment to Mumia Abu-Jamal

/*Mumia to receive treatment with direct-acting antiviral medications 
within 21-days*/

January 3, 2017: Federal district court Judge Robert Mariani granted 
political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal’s request for a preliminary 
injunction, forcing the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections (DOC) to 
provide him with direct-acting antiviral (DAA) drugs capable of curing 
his chronic hepatitis C infection. During an evidentiary hearing in 
December 2015, it was shown that Abu-Jamal had a chronic hepatitis C 
infection that was progressively attacking his liver, causing scarring, 
a severe, itchy, painful skin rash that had lasted more than 18 months, 
and anemia of chronic disease.

Mr. Abu-Jamal is represented by Bret Grote of the Abolitionist Law 
Center and attorney Robert J. Boyle. "We are gratified by Judge 
Mariani's decision and urge the PA DOC to administer these life saving 
drugs to Mr. Abu Jamal without further delay," said Robert J. Boyle on 
hearing the news of the courts decision. Bret Grote, Legal Director at 
the Abolitionist Law Center and attorney representing Mumia Abu-Jamal 
said, “This is the first case in the country in which a federal court 
has ordered prison officials to provide an incarcerated patient with the 
new [hepatitis C] medications that came on the market in 2013."

The legal victory comes after Judge Mariani denied an earlier request 
for a preliminary injunction, holding that Abu-Jamal had failed to file 
his lawsuit against the correct defendants. However, the judge also held 
at that time that the DOC’s treatment protocol for hepatitis C violated 
the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment, and 
once members of the DOC’s Hepatitis C Treatment Committee were added as 
defendants the judge could issue a favorable injunction. The current 
decision follows the filing of a related case by attorneys for Abu-Jamal 
on September 30, 2016, which included members of the Hepatitis C 
Treatment Committee as defendants.

Quoting from his earlier decision, Judge Mariani described the DOC’s 
protocol for hepatitis C treatment:

    [T]he effect of the protocol is to delay administration of DAA
    medications until the inmate faces the imminent prospect of
    “catastrophic” rupture and bleeding out of the esophageal vessels.
    Additionally, by denying treatment until inmates have “advanced
    disease” as marked by esophageal varices, the interim protocol
    prolongs the suffering of those who have been diagnosed with chronic
    Hepatitis C and allows the progression of the disease to accelerate
    so that it presents a greater threat of cirrhosis, hepatocellular
    carcinoma, and death of the inmate with such disease.

The judge also rejected the DOC’s argument that recent changes to the 
protocol had resolved the constitutional violation, holding that the new 
protocol “suffers from the same fatal flaw as the interim protocol” 
because it “refuses, without medical justification, to provide 
treatment… and also imposes an unreasonable condition—having vast 
fibrosis or cirrhosis—on treatment.”

There are more than 5,400 people in DOC custody with chronic hepatitis 
C, and more than 99% of them are not receiving treatment. Newly 
developed medications have a cure rate of 95% or more in clinical 
trials, but the DOC has been refusing to provide the cure due to its 
high cost.

Contact: Bret Grote bretgrote at abolitionistlawcenter.org 
<mailto:bretgrote at abolitionistlawcenter.org>

Memorandum Opinion - /Abu-Jamal v. Wetzel/ 

Court Order Granting Preliminary Injunction - /Abu-Jamal v. Wetzel/ 

Freedom Archives 522 Valencia Street San Francisco, CA 94110 415 
863.9977 www.freedomarchives.org
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