06/02/2004

Inmates to Get Adequate Health Care Under Settlement Agreement

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- Inmates with serious illnesses who were routinely denied basic medical attention will receive substantial improvements in their care under a lawsuit settlement agreement filed in federal court here today.

The Center filed the class action in May 2003 on behalf of prisoners at St. Clair Correctional Facility, Alabama's prison designated to treat chronically sick inmates.

Conditions there were grossly inhumane. One of the named plaintiffs in the case died two days after it was filed, apparently from an untreated breathing problem he had endured for years. The prognosis for another plaintiff, diagnosed with testicular cancer but not provided proper treatment until months later, is grim.

Because of the Center's lawsuit, the Alabama Department of Corrections has — for the first time — implemented a statewide policy for treating inmates with Hepatitis-C, a disease that severely damages the liver.

"Under this settlement, suffering for some people will end, and lives will undoubtedly be saved," said Center staff attorney Grace Graham, who handled the litigation.