PA Dept. of Corrections Tells Court It Will Finally Treat Mumia Hep-C infection, But Only Because DOC Neglect has Caused Cirrhosis
After two years of being denied appropriate treatment for his active Hepatitis-C infection, Mumia Abu-Jamal, a black journalist and activist who has been in a Pennsylvania jail for 35 years, 29 of them on death row, will finally receive the latest medicine to treat the deadly disease, but according to Amy Worden, a spokeswoman for the state's Department of Corrections, the only reason for this is that, as she put it in a statement to Washington, DC television news station "inmates are prioritized for treatment based on the progression of the disease." She claimed that, "based on recent testing, he’s now eligible."
The DOC had informed the Third Circuit Court of Appeals in a status report filed today about the decision to start offering treatment -- which involves giving him 12-24 weeks of daily anti-viral pills, but without that dire explanation for the department's change in handling his case. The department currently has an appeal pending before the Third Circuit, asking that panel to stay a lower federal district court's injunction ordering immediate treatment to be offered to Abu-Jamal. Last week, the Third Circuit judicial panel had rejected that appeal for a stay and Abu-Jamal's attorneys were preparing to ask District Judge Robert Mariani to find the DOC in contempt and to order an immediate start to the medication.
Johanna Fernandez, a member of Abu-Jamal's legal team, tells ThisCantBeHappening! that Abu-Jamal is "quite angry." She reports that on Friday he told her that "The prison doctor visited with him today to say that he has developed cirrhosis. In short, the prison has allowed his condition to worsen, and although it is expected that he will recover once he gets the Hep C cure, he and others who develop cirrhosis are more likely to develop liver cancer over the course of their lives."
Ab-Jamal's own doctor has not been shown the prison medical records yet, and thus cannot comment on the claim that he has cirrhosis.
The DOC's denial of treatment has been going on for exactly two years, dating from March 30, 2015, when inmate Abu-Jamal, already suffering from a terrible skin rash and unexplained dramatic weight loss, collapsed and had to be rushed out of the prison to a hospital, where he was diagnosed with serious case of diabetes. That’s when he was finally tested to see if he had a Hepatic C viral load in his blood (he did).
The DOC already had known at the time for three years that Abu-Jamal had contracted the potentially deadly virus, thanks to a routine blood test he was given as part of the process of transferring him from the super-max SCI-Greene death row prison outside Pittsburg to his current regular-population prison at SCI Mahanoy, where he is now serving a sentence of life without parole following the overturning of his death sentence on constitutional grounds.