Criminal Justice Press Release

01.24.20

ACLU Takes Prisoners’ Rights Case to Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals

Supreme Court of Ohio

COLUMBUS – On January 22, the ACLU and the ACLU of Ohio filed a brief in the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals on behalf of three Ohio prisoners who were denied the proper standard of medical care to treat their Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) while housed at Grafton Correctional Institution.

The plaintiffs initially filed a lawsuit challenging the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction for its blanket policy of denying appropriate HCV treatment regardless of individual medical needs, claiming it was a violation of their 8th Amendment rights against cruel and unusual punishment. The case was dismissed in September 2019 and the ACLU is asking the Court of Appeals to reverse that decision and allow the case to proceed.

“By denying prisoners a standard treatment for a curable disease, the state is failing to live up to both its constitutional and moral responsibilities,” said David Carey, senior staff attorney for the ACLU of Ohio. “Leaving prisoners to suffer intense pain and permanent liver damage under a blanket policy, with no regard for their individual medical needs, is nothing less than cruel and unusual punishment.”

HCV is a chronic disease that, left untreated, results in irreversible liver damage and death. “The district court erred in dismissing our client’s claims. ODRC must employ policies that are based on medical considerations first. Given the severity of this chronic disease, treatment delayed is treatment denied,” concluded Carey.

“ODRC’s policy on Hepatitis C is out of alignment with prevailing medical standards, as well as with our values as a nation. People who are incarcerated have a right to adequate medical care under the Eighth Amendment. That right must be recognized and upheld in Ohio – and nationwide,” concluded Jennifer Wedekind, staff attorney for the ACLU’s National Prison Project.

 

A copy of the brief is available.