Print this page    •   Back to Web version of article

U.S. News
New York: Denial of Prisoner's Hepatitis Treatment "Cruel and Unusual," Court Says

July 18, 2005

A recent ruling by a New York panel of judges said prison officials' denial of medical treatment for a Sing Sing inmate with hepatitis C amounted to "cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth Amendment." Four judges of the state Supreme Court's Appellate Division unanimously upheld a May 2003 order by state Supreme Court Justice Mary Smith directing prison officials to provide medication for the inmate, whose condition was diagnosed in February 2002.

The prisoner has been incarcerated since 1999, serving a 16-year maximum sentence for attempted murder. Prison officials directed the inmate to participate in an intensive six-month drug-treatment program in order to receive treatment for hepatitis. After two weeks, the prisoner dropped out of the program, saying he had not used drugs for 30 years, the program contained no useful information about his medical condition, and it disrupted his educational classes and work schedule. The prisoner filed an inmate grievance in May 2002 and a lawsuit on his own behalf after the grievance was denied.

Prison officials refused to provide the prisoner medication while Smith's ruling was appealed. James Flateau, a spokesperson for the state Department of Correctional Services, would not comment on the case while the department reviews whether to appeal the latest Court of Appeals ruling.

Correction officials said the prisoner's admission to prior use of drugs and alcohol and his refusal to stay in the drug-treatment program justified their withholding medication, despite a doctor having written the inmate a prescription for interferon in September 2002.

In her ruling, Smith wrote that while there were limitations to treatments available for hepatitis C, "this court finds no treatment at all to be repugnant to our standards of decency."

Back to other news for July 18, 2005

Excerpted from:
Journal News (Westchester County, N.Y.)
07.11.05; Bill Hughes




This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update. You can find this article online by typing this address into your Web browser:
http://www.thebody.com/content/art25276.html

General Disclaimer: TheBody.com is designed for educational purposes only and is not engaged in rendering medical advice or professional services. The information provided through TheBody.com should not be used for diagnosing or treating a health problem or a disease. It is not a substitute for professional care. If you have or suspect you may have a health problem, consult your health care provider.