Massachusetts Department of Correction settles lawsuit on treating inmates with hepatitis C

March 10, 2018
By Shira Schoenberg

The Massachusetts Department of Correction has reached a settlement with prisoners’ rights groups over its medical treatment of prison inmates with hepatitis C.

The settlement requires prisoners with the most serious cases of hepatitis C to be treated within 12 months. Prisoners with less serious cases will have to be treated within 18 months. Every new prisoner will be tested for hepatitis C, and those who have the disease will be treated.

Attorneys for the National Lawyers Guild and Prisoners’ Legal Services filed a class action lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Boston in 2015 on behalf of prisoners who have hepatitis C.

Joel Thompson, an attorney with Prisoners’ Legal Services and the lead attorney on the case, said these drugs have high cure rates, and treating prisoners in prison will lead to less transmission of the disease once prisoners are released, and lower health care costs and complications later on.

Thompson said someone in prison is sentenced to loss of liberty. “It shouldn’t be the loss of liberty and substandard health care and liver cancer or cirrhosis,” Thompson said.

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