Inmates were left to die from Hep C, ACLU claims in lawsuits

By Carrie Bradon | Feb 14, 2019

A number of lawsuits claim that, despite suffering from a serious health condition that required treatment, Louisiana prisons inmates were instead left to die. 

Three inmates have filed lawsuits claiming that despite suffering from Hepatitis C, several inmates were caused to die as they were left to wait for treatment by the Department of Corrections. According to The Advocate, the attorney representing the plaintiffs, Joseph Long, believes that the reason the inmates were left to die was because the treatment was too expensive. The treatment is approximately 95 percent effective when used to treat Hepatitis C, where previous treatment methods succeeded only about 50 percent of the time.

The ACLU of Louisiana commented on this phenomenon of prison deaths, which is higher in Louisiana than other states.

"Louisiana has the highest prison death rate per capita in the country," Alanah Odoms Hebert, executive director of ACLU Louisiana, told Louisiana Record. "No judge would ever sentence someone to slow torture by an untreated medical condition, but too often that is what happens due to the chronic lack of medical care at Louisiana state prisons."

Despite the evidence against the Department of Corrections, the department denies that it ever made decisions based on cost, claiming that it did not fail in its treatment of incarcerated Hepatitis C patients. All of the inmates that filed the lawsuits are still living and were given treatment that they needed only after they began the legal battle. 

The ACLU of Louisiana has filed a class action lawsuit regarding the prison death rates and hopes to see positive changes coming for inmates in the near future.

"While our class-action lawsuit focused on the unconstitutionally inadequate care at the Louisiana State Penitentiary, this is clearly a widespread problem that must be addressed with systemic reforms," Hebert said.

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