At issue is the refusal of the DOC to give Mr. Eaddy Direct Acting Anti-Viral drugs (“DAAs”) to cure his Hepatitis C. The DAA medication is known to have a 90% success rate in treating individuals who suffer from chronic Hepatitis C, but the DOC denies providing potentially life-saving DAAs in favor of a costly and burdensome monitoring program. Mr. Eaddy’s illness is exacerbated by the fact he also suffers from diabetes, anemia, and kidney disease which means the denial of medical care not only subjects him to irreversible harm but also places him at risk of death.
Morally and legally, the DOC is failing in its job to ensure Mr. Eaddy receives appropriate medical care. We demand he receive DAA treatment immediately.
While there are over 5,000 incarcerated persons who have Hepatitis C, the DOC ceased treating incarcerated persons in 2013, when DAA medications became readily available. The DOC instead created a treatment protocol to limit incarcerated persons access to DAA medications despite the epidemic levels of diagnosis. This protocol was found to be “a conscious disregard of a known risk of advanced cirrhosis and death…” and ruled unconstitutional in 2017. The DOC refuses to treat Hepatitis C patients with DAA medication instead chooses to ration care to preserve their bottom line risking lives such as Mr. Eaddy’s in the process. Moreover, the DOC protocol falls below the recommendations set forth by the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases (AASLD) and supported by the Center for Disease Control (CDC).
Plaintiffs submitted an expert report from Dr. Stacey Beth Trookin , who sits on the Treatment Guidance Panel for the AASLD and the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA), finding the current DOC protocol is substandard care that is medically indefensible. Additionally, she found the DAA treatments are cost effective and medically necessary as a matter of public health, especially when the individuals are suffering from other illnesses such as diabetes.
Even though Lester Eaddy’s preexisting medical conditions put him at a Priority level 3, signaling the necessity of the treatment, he has yet to receive the DAA medications. Since the DOC continuously fails to live up to the recommended standard of care and treat individual with the DAA treatments by ignoring Mr. Eaddy’s repeated request for medical care, this lawsuit seeks a preliminary injunction to ensure Lester Eaddy receives the DAA treatment.
Bret Grote, Abolitionist Law Center, firstname.lastname@example.org, 412-654-9070
The Abolitionist Law Center’s Hepatitis C Project was developed to
assist incarcerated people throughout the state of Pennsylvania obtain
Hepatitis C treatment. The Hepatitis C Project developed out of our
work in _Mumia Abu Jamal v. Kerestes_. Since the project’s inception,
we have corresponded with many throughout the state prisons that are
living with Hepatitis C.
ALC does not have the capacity to represent every prisoner with
Hepatitis C. In order to reach as many people as possible, we have
created this pro se litigation packet for incarcerated patients who will
represent themselves in court. This packet can be used by any
incarcerated patient with Hepatitis C to draft pro se litigation in an
effort to obtain Hepatitis C treatment. The components of this packet
Hepatitis C factsheet
The American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases Guide on
When and in Whom to Initiate HCV Therapy
List of common medical terms associated with Hepatitis C
List of medical tests associated with Hepatitis C
List of questions to ask your medical provider regarding your
The PA DOC Hepatitis C treatment protocol
Instructions on how to file a grievance
Jailhouse lawyer’s manual (written by Mumia Abu Jamal)
Legal brief instructions
Draft legal brief
Please use this packet to assist in securing treatment. There is now a
safe and effective cure for Hepatitis C, and there is no reason why so
many should go without access to this cure. We hope this pro se
litigation packet will help you get the Hepatitis C treatment that you
are entitled to.
Brought by Women who Were Housed in Solitary While Pregnant
PITTSBURGH – Allegheny County has settled a lawsuit filed last December by five women who challenged the county jail’s practice of housing pregnant inmates in solitary confinement.
The women are represented by the Abolitionist Law Center, the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania, the Pennsylvania Institutional Law Project, and the law firm of Reed Smith LLP. Four of the plaintiffs spent time ranging from six to 22 days in solitary confinement while pregnant and incarcerated at Allegheny County Jail (ACJ).
“We are grateful that officials in Allegheny County have recognized how harmful it is to keep pregnant women in solitary confinement,” said Reggie Shuford, executive director of the ACLU of Pennsylvania. “It’s unfortunate that it took a federal lawsuit for them to recognize this, but we’re pleased the county has agreed to a progressive, comprehensive, and humane policy. People who are incarcerated have a right to basic healthcare needs and to be treated humanely.”
The plaintiffs were typically placed in isolation for minor, non-violent rules infractions, including possession of too many pairs of shoes in one case and possession of a library book in another. During their time in solitary, they stayed in their cells for 23 to 24 hours per day and were rarely given the opportunity to even shower. They were also denied access to proper nutrition for pregnancy throughout their incarceration.
“The women who brought this lawsuit exhibited tremendous courage under harsh and despairing conditions, and through their efforts they have secured important human rights protections for pregnant women at the Allegheny County Jail,” said Abolitionist Law Center Legal Director Bret Grote.
As part of the settlement, officials from Allegheny County have agreed to numerous new policies and accountability measures that are among the most comprehensive and progressive procedures for housing pregnant inmates in the United States. The settlement prohibits the jail from placing pregnant women in restrictive housing except in rare instances where the inmate poses a serious and immediate risk of physical harm, and decisions to place pregnant women in restrictive housing must be reviewed by the deputy warden and cleared by a medical professional.
In addition, administrators at the jail will provide appropriate diets for pregnant inmates and will track the distribution of meals, and women who are lactating will be allowed to use a breast pump.
The county also agreed to specific enforcement measures. The federal district court will retain jurisdiction to enforce the settlement agreement’s terms for three years. ACJ will also provide a current list of all pregnant women at the jail to the plaintiffs’ lawyers on request and will provide copies of documents related to the placement of any pregnant women in restrictive housing to the plaintiffs’ attorneys.
“Allegheny County has taken an important step in joining the national trend that recognizes there are better alternatives to solitary confinement within our prisons and jails,” said Alexandra Morgan-Kurtz, staff attorney for the Pennsylvania Institutional Law Project. “These policy changes will provide a healthier and safer environment for pregnant women detained at ACJ.”
The case is Seitz v. Allegheny County, and the plaintiffs are represented by Sara Rose and Witold Walczak of the ACLU of Pennsylvania, Bret Grote of the Abolitionist Law Center, Alexandra Morgan-Kurtz of the Pennsylvania Institutional Law Project, and David Fawcett and Aleksandra Phillips of the law firm Reed Smith LLP.
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.
PITTSBURGH (December 19) – The ACLU of Pennsylvania, the Abolitionist Law Center (ALC), the Pennsylvania Institutional Law Project (PILP), and Reed Smith LLP joined forces today in filing claims in federal court challenging the inhumane way officials treat pregnant women held at the Allegheny County Jail. The lawsuit alleges that jail officials routinely place pregnant women in solitary confinement for extended periods of time without justification, knowing full well that this practice can harm the health of the women and their pregnancies.
The lawsuit also seeks to end other restrictions and conditions placed on these women that are dangerous and extremely shortsighted. Pregnant inmates are regularly deprived of nutritional food; needed medications; lack of heat; and even the ability to shower or exercise.
“The conditions of solitary confinement and inadequate nutrition faced by pregnant women at ACJ are causing severe psychological anguish, constant hunger, and putting them and their pregnancies at risk of permanent harm,” said Bret Grote, legal director of the Abolitionist Law Center. “The Constitution does not permit this.”
Four of the five named plaintiffs in the lawsuit have spent time ranging from six to 22 days in solitary confinement while pregnant. Elizabeth Seitz, the lead plaintiff in the case, was placed in solitary confinement for ten days in November when she was seven months pregnant. She spent 24 hours per day in her cell and was permitted to leave her cell to shower only twice in ten days. Ms. Seitz had previously spent 21 days in solitary confinement in October.
“Despite numerous requests for help, ACJ has ignored its duty to safeguard the pregnant women in its care,” said Alexandra Morgan-Kurtz, staff attorney at the Pennsylvania Institutional Law Project. “This blatant disregard for correctional standards cannot be tolerated.”
Due to the serious risk of mental and physical harm, the U.S. Department of Justice opposes the use of solitary confinement for pregnant women except in very rare situations. Yet Allegheny County regularly places pregnant women in solitary confinement for minor, non-violent rule violations. For example, one of the plaintiffs, Ms. Hendricks, was placed in solitary confinement for nine days for violating rules by having a library book in her possession.
“It is widely recognized that placing pregnant women in solitary confinement is extremely dangerous – for both mother and child,” said David Fawcett, an attorney at Reed Smith who is representing the plaintiffs pro bono. “The routine and thoughtless use of this practice is a real black mark on our county and must end now.”
Many other groups, like the National Commission on Correctional Health Care, have documented the unhealthy effects of solitary confinement for pregnant women. According to the NCCHC, “[i]nternational standards established by the United Nations Rules for the Treatment of Women Prisoners and Non-Custodial Measures for Women Offenders state that pregnant women should never be placed in solitary confinement as they are especially susceptible to its harmful psychological effects.”
“The use of solitary confinement to discipline pregnant women for any offense, much less a minor, non-violent offense, is contrary to both national and international standards,” said Reggie Shuford, ACLU-PA executive director. “Pregnant women in Allegheny County should not be subject to this cruel and inhumane practice.”
The case is Seitz v. Allegheny County, and the plaintiffs are represented by Sara Rose of the ACLU-PA, Bret Grote of the Abolitionist Law Center, Alexandra Morgan-Kurtz of the Pennsylvania Institutional Law Project, and David Fawcett of the law firm Reed Smith LLP.
October 12, 2016: A lawsuit filed in the Western District of Pennsylvania federal court today describes the harrowing story of plaintiff Christopher Wallace, who was twice hospitalized because medical staff employed by Corizon at the Allegheny County Jail (ACJ) failed to provide him with medically prescribed tube feedings, causing his starvation and an eventual heart attack that nearly ended his life. Mr. Wallace has sued medical staff who were in charge of his care at ACJ, as well as Warden Harper, County Executive Rich Fitzgerald, and Corizon, each of which turned a blind eye to policies and practices that they knew were leading to the systematic failure to provide medical care to inmates in violation of the United States Constitution.
As of 2014 Allegheny County had been on notice that their private health care provider, Corizon, was not providing adequate care to the prisoners at the Allegheny County Jail. Rather than intervene, the County allowed Corizon to continue providing services at the Allegheny County Jail until their contract with the County expired. Corizon repeatedly engaged in conduct designed to save the County money at the expense of the health, wellbeing, and constitutional rights of inmates.
Plaintiff Christopher Wallace was an unfortunate victim of Corizon’s for-profit healthcare scheme. Mr. Wallace was emaciated when he entered the care of Allegheny County. The County immediately recognized that he was in need of serious care as this 6’4” man weighed a mere 77 pounds upon entry to the County Jail. After a short stay at UPMC Mercy, Mr. Wallace was returned to the care of the County.
Despite their assurances that they could care for Mr. Wallace, the County and their private contractor, Corizon, allowed him to starve. Mr. Wallace was not provided with the most basic form of life sustaining care, food and water.
On two separate occasions Mr. Wallace was forced to return to UPMC because the individuals in charge of his well-being either were not willing, or did not have the resources to provide him food and water via medically prescribed tube feedings.
The records that exist show that Mr. Wallace was never once provided his prescribed five daily feedings over a period of nearly 30 days. According to the records provided by Corizon, some days Mr. Wallace was not fed at all.
The cruel and outrageous conduct of the County and Corizon resulted in a 28-year-old man having a heart attack and nearly starving to death. If it wasn’t for the compassion of the staff at UPMC, Mr. Wallace likely would have died.
Mr. Wallace is represented by the Abolitionist Law Center and Louis J. Kroeck of the firm Anstandig & McDyer.
Federal Court Finds DOC’s Hepatitis C Protocol Unconstitutional But Requires New Defendants Be Added to Lawsuit Before Ordering Treatment for Mumia Abu-Jamal
September 1, 2016: Federal district court judge Robert Mariani denied political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal’s request for a preliminary injunction on Wednesday, August 1st that would have forced the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections (DOC) to provide him with direct-acting antiviral drugs capable of curing his hepatitis C. The opinion, however, also held that the DOC’s hepatitis C protocol violates the Eighth Amendment by withholding the medication to incarcerated patients with chronic hepatitis C, and that when Mr. Abu-Jamal adds members of the DOC’s Hepatitis C Treatment Committee the judge can issue a favorable injunction.
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.
The court found that “the standard of care with respect to the treatment of chronic Hepatitis C is the administration of the newly-developed DAA [direct-acting antiviral] medications, such as Harvoni, Sovaldi, and Viekira Pak.” The court then found that the DOC’s hepatitis C treatment protocol “prolong[s] the suffering of those who have been diagnosed with chronic hepatitis C and allow[s] the progression of the disease to accelerate so that it presents a greater threat of cirrhosis, hepatocellular carcinoma [i.e. liver cancer], and death of the inmate with such disease” in violation of the Eighth Amendment.
The DOC’s protocol “presents a conscious disregard of a known risk of advanced cirrhosis and death by esophageal hemorrhage” due to its refusal to authorize hepatitis C treatment until a patient already has advanced cirrhosis and esophageal varices, a condition that can lead to fatal hemorrhaging of the blood vessels in the esophagus.
The court did not grant the injunction, however, because it found that members of the DOC’s Hepatitis C Committee had to be added as defendants: “a mandatory injunction favorable to Plaintiff would necessarily require that the individuals enjoined be able to exercise control over the contents or application of the protocol.”
The DOC’s current treatment protocol for hepatitis C was ruled in violation of the Eighth Amendment in no uncertain terms: “In the wake of the advent of curative Hepatitis C medications, Defendants have charted a course that denies treatment to inmates until they are on the verge of a ‘catastrophic’ health event, a decision that appears to contain a ‘fiscal component,’ and ignores the standard of care for the treatment of chronic hepatitis C.”
Abolitionist Law Center’s Legal Director Bret Grote said the following about the decision: “While we are disappointed the court did not grant the injunction at this time, its holding that incarcerated patients with hepatitis C are entitled to treatment with the breakthrough medications that cure hepatitis C and that the DOC’s current protocol violates the Eighth Amendment sets a powerful precedent for Mr. Abu-Jamal, the more than 5,400 prisoners with chronic hepatitis C in Pennsylvania, and tens of thousands incarcerated with untreated hepatitis C across the country. We won everything but the injunction we sought, and will be moving expeditiously to bring additional defendants before the court so Mr. Abu-Jamal can receive the treatment he is entitled to under the U.S. Constitution.”
Attorneys for Abu-Jamal file brief slamming DOC for withholding treatment
On Friday, March 11, attorneys for political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal filed their post-hearing brief in support of Abu-Jamal’s motion for a preliminary injunction ordering the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections to provide him with treatment for his hepatitis C. The 30-page brief summarized the extensive factual record from a 3-day evidentiary hearing held at the end of December 2015.
During the December hearing it was shown that Abu-Jamal has a chronic hepatitis C infection that is progressively attacking his liver, causing scarring, a severe, itchy, painful skin rash that has lasted more than 18 months, and anemia of chronic disease. Abu-Jamal also experienced a nearly fatal attack of diabetes in March 2015 that is also likely related to his hepatitis C.
There were surprises at the hearing as well. The head of the DOC’s clinical services, Dr. Paul Noel, revealed that tests conducted by the DOC show that there is a 63% chance that Abu-Jamal has cirrhosis, which means that the disease has progressed to the point that it is causing irreversible and worsening inflammation and scarring throughout his liver. Despite the extraordinary danger posed by Abu-Jamal’s condition, Noel testified under oath that the DOC will not provide treatment unless a patient has advanced cirrhosis and the presence of esophageal varices, which means that the patient is at risk of bleeding to death.
As argued in Abu-Jamal’s brief: “It is shocking to the conscience that the DOC thinks it is acceptable to withhold medical care until one’s liver has suffered irreversible damage accompanied by such severe damage to the blood vessels that the patient is literally at risk of bleeding to death. No matter whether such “active surveillance” is called treatment or not, it is a gross departure from medical ethics and constitutional requirements.”
Dr. Noel also revealed on cross examination that DOC counsel had submitted a falsified document in his name in September in 2015 that contained inaccurate and misleading medical information that was then used as the basis for DOC’s argument against plaintiff’s motion for preliminary injunction.
Mumia Abu-Jamal is represented by Bret Grote of the Abolitioist Law Center and Robert Boyle.
By Georgie “Big Georgie” Dalie (HC-9826 at SCI Greene)
Recently, I read an article entitled “Pollution Prison in Pennsylvania,” written by comrade Mumia Abu-Jamal (Prison Legal News vol. 26, no. 6, June 2015 issue, p. 60). The article was about the Fayette State Correctional Institution and the prisoners there being exposed to toxic coal waste (Fly Ash).
I was previously incarcerated at the Fayette institution from February 2011 until February 2013. During my time there, I was both a witness to and victim of the toxic environment. On so many mornings I remember leaving my housing unit (C-Block B-side) en route to the Facility dining hall, at which time I would witness a dusty substance that was very thick and made it difficult to see any farther than nine to twelve feet in any direction. I would eat the morning meal, then return to the housing unit. Before locking into my assigned prison cell, I would have to shake out my clothing to remove the same dusty substance. It would be all over the floor in front of the cell and I would have to clean it up with toilet tissue.
On those same mornings someone from the facility Deputy’s complex would get on the PA system and announce that due to “FOG ALERT” all outdoor recreation was canceled for the morning. I always had an issue with the fog alert claim because I would watch the local news and weather stations religiously and none of them had reported any fog in their forecasts. Prisoners would not receive outdoor recreation until after 1:00 PM on “Fog Alert” days.
When I would finally get to the Main Yard the sun would be shining and the dusty substance clouding the air earlier would then be settled on the grass and racetrack. That stuff would get all caked up on your boots and the bottom of your pants legs. Within a weeks time of purchasing some new kicks (sneakers or boots) and wearing them in the main yard the stitching would start to give way and then your kicks would fall apart.
Then came the issue with the water. One of my comrades had warned me one evening that I should always run the sink water in my cell for at least twenty minutes before drinking it because staff and prisoners had been getting sick from a black substance turning up in it. I ran my sink for twenty minutes with a white cloth pressed on the faucet out of curiosity. When I finally pulled the cloth away and took a look at it, I did witness dark particles caked up on the cloth.
One evening during “Block-Out” (Open Dayroom where prisoners congregate to watch TV, use the phone, or play board games) I was in the staff hallway searching the game shelf for the Connect Four set when I witnessed a Department Directive posted to the staff bathroom door that directed all staff to refrain from consuming the facility’s tap water and that the electronic spring water system located in the hallway was for staff. I can only speculate as to why Fayette administrators would issue such directions to staff and not to prisoners also.
In 2012, I discovered thick, hard, shiny, grey, scabby spots appearing all over my body and inside my mouth. The spots on my body burned and itched severely and if I scratched or picked at them they would erupt and bleed. Soap, lotion, water, and even movement caused irritation and discomfort. The spots inside of my mouth were ulcerated and would cause a burning sensation that was difficult just to bear. No matter what I would eat: hot, cold, spicy, or mild, my mouth would be on fire.
In 2013, one of the scabby areas on my neck became so bad that I signed an agreement to allow medical staff to perform a biopsy on the affected area of my neck. The area was numbed via injection and a specimen (a nice size chunk of flesh from my neck) was severed (cut) from the affected area and sent to a lab for diagnostic study and/or evaluation. I agreed to the biopsy because I thought it would help medical staff figure out what was (and still is) wrong with me.
However, when the test results came back, I was told by the Physicians Assistant (PA) that I had something called “Lichen Planus.” She said it’s my fault that I have it and that it was from scratching. I informed the PA that I only scratched an area on my thigh once and that I never did it again because of the pain and bleeding I experienced. She became angry and began to yell at me, stating, “You did this to yourself.” I didn’t understand her anger so I didn’t say anything else. She prescribed me a steroid cream that only helped with the pain. She also told me that I would be stuck with “Lichen” for the rest of my life because there was no treatment for it.
Also in 2013, the ulcerated areas in my mouth became so out of control that the oral surgeon was called in to surgically remove pieces of flesh from my tongue and from the floor of my mouth under my tongue. This took place one day before I was transferred to S.C.I. Greene. (The surgery was done on February, 25, 2013 and I was transferred on the 26th.) The surgery was a failure and about a week after the ulcerated spots started to spread from the right side of my mouth to the left. Large puss bubbles began to grow in the hinges of my jaw and the back of my throat. At night the puss bubbles sometimes get in the way of my breathing and cause me to wake up. I keep a plastic spoon close by so that I can use the back of it to pop them quickly. Also, my mouth had to be stitched up after the surgery, which was extremely painful.
The whole experience was and still is traumatizing. My body is scarred for life now and I had pieces of me cut away that I can never get back. S.C.I. Greene has stopped my steroid cream and will no longer even respond to requests for medical care for my alleged “Lichen Planus.” Back when I first got here I was seen by the oral surgeon (not the same one as at Fayette). I asked him if what I had could turn cancerous. The guy became so nervous he dropped a tray of surgical tools. I never got answers to my question.
I believe that my injuries are a result of being exposed to toxic coal waste at S.C.I. Fayette. I believe that the administrators at S.C.I. Fayette, their medical staff, and government officials know/knew that the toxic environment is harming and killing prisoners.
Why else would they spend millions to pull up all of the institution’s drinking water pipes and hang them on the buildings? According to reports I’ve heard from some of my comrades, the pipes were removed because the ones that were put in by the original contractors were allegedly made of a material that could not withstand the weight of the buildings, so they were replaced with more suitable ones. This makes no sense to me, and even if it were true, that doesn’t explain why the pipes are now hanging on the housing units instead of being put back underground. And why did they dig up the pipes that are going outside the security fence? Those pipes were not under the buildings. If you take a tour of the institution, you’ll see large beams holding up the pipes and they are everywhere. When I used to have to go to the main yard, I had to travel under a large bridge of pipes.
I think the Human Rights Coalition (HRC) and Abolitionist Law Center (ALC) need to look into that because I believe the D.O.C. knew something was up and that they pulled those pipes in an attempt to hide the prisoners’ exposure to the toxic coal waste dump that they built the institution on. I had no other recourse, I had to drink the institution’s tap water and I had to breathe the air there also. The administration didn’t issue me directions not to drink the tap water, nor did they provide me an alternative water source like they did for the staff.
To all of you reading this: How would you feel if you were in my shoes? What if you had to allow nurses and surgeons to cut flesh from your mouth and neck? What if one of us (prisoners currently or previously at S.C.I. Fayette) were your father, brother, uncle, or son? Will you help us to hold those responsible accountable for their deliberate indifference? Or will you not speak out because you’re not now, have never been, and don’t plan on ever being in prison? If that’s how you feel, then let me give you a lesson about apathy.
An early supporter of Hitler during his rise to power, Martin Niemöller later came to oppose the Nazi regime. Niemöller’s status in the world of the wealthy and powerful saved him until 1937 when he was imprisoned by the Nazi’s. His poem “First They Came” can teach us a lot about the consequences of apathy:
“First they came for the communists﹣but I was not a communist, so I did not speak out.
Then they came for the socialists and the trade unionists﹣but I was neither, so I did not speak out.
Then they came for the Jews ﹣but I was not a Jew, so I did not speak out.
And when they came for me there was no one left to speak out for me.”
If you’re not doing anything to save those who need saving right now, then who will be around to do the saving when it is your tongue, your mouth, or your neck that’s getting hacked at? Dr. King said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
And I say we should stand up, stand together, stand firm, and fight the unjust exposure of prisoners to toxic coal waste at S.C.I. Fayette. And let’s not forget the families in LaBelle who are suffering from exposure also.
Untreated Diabetes nearly killed Abu-Jamal in March, and the DOC is refusing to treat his active Hepatitis C
August 3, 2015: Attorneys for political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal filed an amended lawsuit today in the Middle District of Pennsylvania federal court to challenge prison medical staff’s denial of necessary medical treatment – denial that nearly killed Abu-Jamal earlier this year.
On March 30, 2015, Abu-Jamal was rushed to the hospital after losing consciousness and going into diabetic shock. Although prison medical staff were aware that Abu-Jamal had a dangerously high blood glucose level of 419 on March 6, they failed to treat, monitor, or even inform Abu-Jamal of his condition. Glucose levels like those that Abu-Jamal had can result in diabetic shock, diabetic coma, and death.
Abu-Jamal’s diabetic shock came in the midst of an escalating year-long health crisis that began with a rash in August 2014. The skin condition grew in intensity over the course of the next several months, eventually covering most of his body with a painful, severe rash that is resistant to conventional treatments. The skin condition is abnormal in its duration and intensity, and has led to lesions, open wounds, and swelling.
The lawsuit filed today seeks injunctive relief for prison medical staff’s failure to treat Abu-Jamal’s active Hepatitis C. Recent blood tests provided at the insistence of Abu-Jamal, his lawyers, and consulting doctors have confirmed that Abu-Jamal has active Hepatitis C, which is likely the underlying cause of his health crisis. Despite the undeniable medical evidence that he is in need of treatment for his Hepatitis C, prison medical staff are refusing to provide any.
Advances in Hepatitis C treatment in recent years have revolutionized the way the disease is treated, with new direct-acting anti-viral medications that have had over 95% success rates in curing the illness in clinical trials. The medications, however, are extraordinarily expensive in the United States due to monopoly pricing practices by the pharmaceutical companies that have patented them.
The Pennsylvania Department of Corrections has yet to promulgate a new protocol for treating Hepatitis C with the new medications, meaning that the estimated 10,000-plus people in DOC custody who have Hepatitis C are not receiving any treatment.
This issue is the subject of a class action lawsuit filed in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania federal court in June 2015.
Abu-Jamal is represented by Bret Grote of the Abolitionist Law Center and Robert J. Boyle of New York City.