A new lawsuit seeks to require the South Carolina Department of Corrections (SCDC) to test prison inmates for Hepatitis C.
According to The State newspaper, the lawsuit calls the lack of testing a violation of the Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which bans cruel and unusual punishment. The suit seeks class-action status and asks a federal judge to order immediate testing of the prison system’s approximately 19,000 inmates.
The newspaper reports that lawsuit was filed by 34-year-old Russell Geissler of Greenville, an inmate since 2011. He was diagnosed with Hepatitis C in January 2014 after having his blood tested for an unrelated health issue. The lawsuit says that the prison system denied every one of his requests for treatment and he has exhausted all available administrative remedies.
SCDC officials said four inmates were treated with new drugs on the market last fiscal year to combat Hepatitis C. However, the lawsuit claims there are many more inmates who need to be treated. The lawsuit adds the current treatment program will serve only 16 inmates when the number of those infected is likely in the thousands.
Hepatitis C is a potentially fatal liver disease. Courts have previously ruled inmates have a constitutional right to appropriate and timely medical treatment.