Wed, August 31st, 2016
Dear Brothers and Sisters:
In a perplexing decision published today, August 31, 2016, District Court Judge Robert D. Mariani denied the request presented by Mumia's attorneys last August 2015, that the court order the PA Department of Correction (DOC) to immediately treat Mumia, who is suffering from chronic and active Hepatitis C, with the existing cure for that diseaseThe judge denied the suit on a technicality: that Mumia's health suit failed to name the DOC's Hepatitis C Committee, which according to the judge is the entity responsible for taking action in these matters. Really, Judge Mariani???
However, the judge's decision holds that the DOC has violated the 8th Amendment ban on cruel and unusual punishment in its failure to treat Mumia, and other prisoners, suffering with active Hepatitis C.
This is yet another example of the contortions and acrobatics that have long been employed by the courts to deny justice to Mumia, and thousands of other defendants.
Read Bob Boyle's longer summary of the judge's decision below.
More updates to follow on next steps. We will not stop until Mumia and the thousands of other prisoners with Hep C get the treatment they need.
Campaign to Bring Mumia Home
From Attorney Bob Boyle:
FEDERAL COURT FINDS PENNSYLVANIA DOC HEPATITIS C PROTOCOL
UNCONSTITUTIONAL BUT DENIES INJUNCTION
In mid-2015 Mumia Abu Jamal filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania requesting that the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections (“DOC”) provide him with life-saving medication to cure his hepatitis C. Abu-Jamal v. Kerestes, et al., 15 Civ. 0967. In a decision issued today, August 31, United States District Court Judge Robert D. Mariani denied Mumia’s request for a preliminary injunction requested that medication while at the same time finding that the DOC’s protocol for treating inmates with hepatitis C falls below constitutional standards. Judge Mariani denied the motion on the ground that the individuals currently being sued, the Warden of SCI Mahanoy, the Director of Health Care for the DOC, the Director of Health Care at SCI Mahanoy, and various medical staff would not have the authority to carry out any injunction.
In October 2015, the DOC adopted a protocol for treating inmates with hepatitis C. Under it, only inmates with advanced, decompensated cirrhosis with bleeding are given the hepatitis C anti-virals that have a 90-95% cure rate. As Judge Mariani found:
DOC’s treatment protocol as currently adopted and implemented fails to provide treatment for hepatitis C through the administration of DAA [Direct-Acting Anti-Viral] medications such as Harvoni, Sovaldi and Viekira Pak until an inmate, including Plaintiff, has progressed to the stage of advanced compensated cirrhosis or early decompensated cirrhosis manifested by esophageal varices. As such, the interim Hepatitis C protocol presents a conscious disregard of a known risk of advanced cirrhosis and death by esophageal hemorrhages.
…The protocol as currently adopted and implemented presents deliberate indifference to the known risks which follow from untreated hepatitis C.
…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.
(Excerpted from Opinion).
In denying the injunction, Judge Mariani found that the members of the DOC’s Hepatitis C committee – an entity whose existence was unknown until near the end of the December 2015 evidentiary hearing – would be the proper defendants. It should be noted that currently pending before the Court is a motion to add as a defendant DOC Director of Clinical Services Paul Noel, who is a member of the Hepatitis C committee, as a defendant. In addition, at no time during the litigation has the DOC argued that the defendants who had been named could not carry out an injunction.
While we are disappointed that Judge Mariani did not issue an injunction, it is important that the court recognized, and found, that the Pennsylvania DOC is denying individuals for whom they are responsible adequate health care as guaranteed by the Eighth Amendment of the United States Constitution. Irrespective of the injunction, the Pennsylvania DOC can choose to comply with the Constitution and provide life-saving drugs to Mumia Abu-Jamal and to all who suffer from hepatitis C.