Federal Judge Robert Mariani has denied the preliminary injunction motion in “Abu-Jamal vs. Kerestes” that demanded life-saving hepatitis C treatment for Mumia Abu-Jamal.

mumia_wife
The reason Mariani gave is this: “The persons against whom injunctive relief may be granted are not parties to this lawsuit”.

He stated that because the specific members of the Department of Corrections’ (DOC’s) hepatitis C Care Committee – were not named in the lawsuit this motion will fail. The memorandum by Mariani says that “if the proper defendants had been named”, Mumia may well have prevailed in his request for immediate lifesaving treatment.

One might ask: How could the PA Department of Corrections not be the “responsible party”? They not only formed the hepatitis C Care Committee; they then approved its recommendations. The named defendants in “Abu-Jamal vs. Kerestes” are responsible for providing appropriate health care to people in prisons in the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections. How could the court let the PA DOC avoid its constitutional obligations to provide medically indicated care to prisoners by simply passing off the responsibility to a subcommittee?

Bob Boyle, lawyer for Abu-Jamal “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. 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.” full statement below

Meanwhile, Judge Mariani did deal a fatal blow to the PA DOC’s “hepatitis C protocol”, finding that the DOC’s provision of medical care to be “deliberately indifferent” and unconstitutional. To quote: “The protocol as currently adopted and implemented presents deliberate indifference to the known risks which follow from untreated chronic hepatitis C.”

Bret Grote, Mumia’s attorney, (Abolitionist Law Center) “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.”  click for press release here

The court’s legal slight of hand on one page denies Mumia immediate care, and on the next page, paves the way for the ultimate delivery of care. But when? How long is the delay?

Note that the hepatitis C Care Committee was created in November 2015 as a direct result of our litigation. It was formed to provide the appearance that the DOC had a process to deliver hep C care. After years of denying hep C treatment to prisoners, the DOC began to treat 5 people at the time of our hearing. A couple dozen prisoners are now are receiving the cure.

Yet 6,000 people in Pennsylvania’s prisons have chronic hep C. All but a few, those with esophageal varices, are being denied treatment. They are dying in the solitary confinement called “Hep C Care Clinics”. Just imagine- no treatment and you have end-stage hep C, and you are in solitary and you are dying. This is not a pretty picture, but it is happening in every single PA prison. It is the definition of “deliberate indifference” and unconstitutional medical care.

press release

9-1-2016 Press Release Contact Abolitionist Law Center Bret Grote, Legal Director bretgrote@abolitionistlawcenter.org 412-654-9070 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. 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 court did not grant the injunction 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.”

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