In 2016, two Tennessee inmates with hepatitis c filed a lawsuit after an investigation by USA Today Network revealed that close to 3,500 inmates had been diagnosed, but only eight had received treatment. As of 2017, Neysa Taylor, spokesperson for the Tennessee Department of Corrections, stated that there are now approximately 4,116 infected with the fatal condition. 25 have received treatment in the last year, and six are currently undergoing treatment.
Federal Judge Grants Class Action Status
In May 2017, U.S. District Chief Judge Waverly Crenshaw granted Tennessee inmates class action status. If the inmates are successful in their federal lawsuit, all inmates in Tennessee with hepatitis c would be able to receive the life-saving treatment. The average price for hepatitis c treatment in the United States is close to $1,000 per day. The total cost is around $90,000.
Florida Judge Recently Ruled Not Treating Inmates for Hep C Violates Their Constitutional Rights
On November 17, 2017, U.S. District Judge Mark Walker issued an order in a lawsuit filed by Tampa inmates that the Florida Department of Corrections weren’t upholding their Constitutional obligation of inmates with hepatitis c. Judge Walker wrote that “Here, FDC’s history of past misconduct leads this court to believe that future injury is imminent. Specifically, this court finds that FDC will not treat HCV-infected inmates in an appropriate and timely manner.” Judge Walker also wrote that he believed FDC’s decision to not treat inmates with hepatitis c was because of budgetary concerns from private companies running the prisons. He also wrote that the court would not tolerate any “foot dragging” and gave Florida DOC until December 1, 2017 to come up with a plan and to start treating the most severely ill inmates first.
Between the rulings of both U.S. District Chief Judge Waverly Crenshaw and U.S. District Judge Mark Walker, inmates around the nation affected with hepatitis c may be able to get treatment for the often deadly liver disease.