A juvenile lifer spent 50 years in prison. Now that he’s out, he may have nowhere to go.

February 5, 2019 | Philadelphia Daily News | Samantha Melamed

Freddie Nole was a teenager last time he walked free back in 1969, when Richard Nixon was president and City Hall was still the tallest building in Philadelphia.

In January 2019, at age 68, Nole was released on parole. He’s trying to catch up on nearly half a century of lost time: going to church with his wife of 34 years, Susan Beard-Nole, and sharing home-cooked meals for the first time in decades. But everything still seems strange and overwhelming: the expansive restaurant menus (he asks Beard-Nole, 72, to order for him); the complicated new iPhone (he kept hanging up midcall); the confusing power locks on his wife’s car.

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‘You’re Going to Let Me Die From This’: Prisoners Fight to Access a Hepatitis-C Cure

January 25, 2019 | The Nation | Elizabeth Weill-Greenberg

On May 15, 2017, after serving 37 years, David Maldonado was released from prison. He had been sentenced to life for a murder he committed when he was 16. But for Maldonado, getting out was about more than freedom; his release might have also saved his life. In 1997, Maldonado was diagnosed with chronic hepatitis C—a disease, now curable, that the state of Pennsylvania had refused to treat. “Society really didn’t care whether I lived or died,” he told me recently.

Hepatitis C is caused by a virus that infects and inflames the liver; it’s spread through blood, most often via intravenous drug use. Between 75 and 85 percent of those infected with hepatitis C develop chronic hepatitis C, which can lead to liver scarring, liver cancer, cirrhosis, and death. It’s the most deadly infectious disease in the United States, killing around 20,000 people a year—more than the next 60 infectious diseases combined.

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VICTORY V BERKS COUNTY: Order and Findings of Fact & Conclusions of Law. Berks County must not treat the lowest risk Trusty inmates differently "based on their chromosomes"

January 15, 2019

Federal Judge Kearney ruled in favor of our client Theresa A. Victory stating that Berks County must allow her the same freedom of movement and opportunities provided to her male counterparts at the Berks County Community Reentry Center by Friday, January 18, 2019. These include 13 hours outside her cell when she is at the prison, no lock on her cell during, the evening and direct access to the rehabilitative programs she wishes to attend in the re-entry center.

Judge Kearney stated that “We find Berks County does not adequately justify its reasons for this substantially different treatment of lowest risk Trusty inmates working in our community on work release based on their chromosomes.” and “After too long, Berks County must act now to mitigate further harm to Ms. Victory and ensure her equal protection under the Law, without retaliating against her . . . because Berks County now needs to treat men and women Trusty inmates in the same manner.”

The Pennsylvania Institutional Law Project is representing Ms. Victory in this class action lawsuit filed on behalf of fifteen female work release and Trusty inmates.

ORDER

FINDINGS OF FACT AND CONCLUSIONS OF LAW

PRESS RELEASE: Court rules Incarcerated Woman’s Lawsuit Challenging Deprivation of Pain Medication and Mobility Devices May Proceed.

Pennsylvania Institutional Law Project and Abolitionist Law Center

For Immediate Release

December 31, 2018

PITTSBURGH, PENNSYLVANIA. On Friday, The United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania rejected motions to dismiss a lawsuit alleging that the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections (DOC) and medical staff violated the rights of an incarcerated woman who is disabled. The case is being litigated by the Abolitionist Law Center (ALC) and the Pennsylvania Institutional Law Project (PILP) on behalf of Ms. Tracey Nadirah Shaw, who is currently imprisoned at State Correctional Institution at Cambridge Springs (SCI Cambridge Springs). Ms. Shaw brought the lawsuit after the DOC and medical staff violated her rights under the Eighth Amendment and ignored protections guaranteed by the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Rehabilitation Act by denying her necessary pain medication and mobility accommodations, including a wheelchair, for over two years.

Ms. Shaw suffers from chronic medical conditions that cause intense neuropathic pain in her back and legs. For years, she was prescribed medication by DOC staff that stabilized her pain and allowed her to engage in daily tasks, including janitorial labor. In 2015, without the benefit of an examination or consultation, medical staff terminated Ms. Shaw’s effective pain management prescription, which resulted in debilitating pain and substantial reduction in her mobility. Ms. Shaw began to depend on additional assistive devices and accommodations to attempt to navigate life at SCI-Cambridge Springs. However, DOC staff took away her wheelchair, depriving her of the ability to travel the extended distances to educational classes, worship programs, and the dining hall. The DOC then used her worsening medical condition to temporarily remove her from her janitorial duties, resulting in a loss of essential income.

Ms. Shaw lost over twenty pounds because she was not able to physically walk to the cafeteria to get her meals and eventually, she suffered a broken leg requiring surgery and the insertion of six screws when she fell trying to walk with the absence of a wheelchair.

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2018 ANNUAL REPORT: Fighting abuse behind bars in court — Rights of pregnant women & transgender individuals, freedom from assault & sexual abuse, access to life-saving medical care and more!

It’s been a busy year packed with organizational growth and successes moving cases forward for prisoner’s rights with huge wins for our clients.

Some highlights are: thousands of incarcerated people will now have access to life saving medical care, pregnant women will no longer be held in solitary confinement, transgender people are now receiving hormone therapy, we are representing a migrant woman who was sexually assaulted at ICE’s Berks facility, and we sued the DOC over the new legal mail policy that denies attorney client confidentiality.

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Berks County Prison inmate lawsuit alleges gender discrimination. Theresa A. Victory claims that women on work release are treated differently than males in the same program.

December 11, 2018 | Karen Shuey | Reading Eagle

A female inmate at Berks County Prison has filed a federal class-action lawsuit against Berks County, alleging men on work release status are granted significantly greater freedom, privileges and opportunities.

In the lawsuit filed in U.S. Eastern District Court in Philadelphia on Friday, Theresa A. Victory alleges women on work release are unfairly confined to their prison cells while their male counterparts on work release status are housed in the adjacent Berks County Community Reentry Center. She alleges the only factor creating this unequal treatment is an inmate's gender. And despite the disparities, both men and women pay $200 each month from their wages.

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5,000 inmates with Hepatitis C sued Pa. prisons. Now, they’re on their way to getting treatment

November 20, 2018 | Samantha Melamed | The Philadelphia Inquirer

In 2013, a cure for hepatitis C — a chronic viral infection that, if untreated, can lead to fatal liver disease — was brought to market. But who would get the $100,000 lifesaving treatment? That's been a subject of political and legal battles ever since.

In May 2017, the Wolf administration announced that Pennsylvania would expand Medicaid coverage of the treatment to anyone with hepatitis C, instead of treating only those with signs of liver damage.

Now, through a legal settlement filed for approval Monday in federal court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, approximately 5,000 incarcerated Pennsylvanians who have hepatitis C would also have access to direct-acting antiviral drugs, which are effective in about 95 percent of cases.

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PRESS RELEASE: Proposed Landmark Settlement Re: Treatment of Chronic Hepatitis C

November 19, 2018 | PA Institutional Law Project and David Rudovsky, Esq.

PRESS RELEASE
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

PROPOSED LANDMARK SETTLEMENT ON ACCESS TO MEDICAL TREATMENT WOULD PROVIDE HIGHLY EFFECTIVE MEDICAL TREATMENT FOR PRISONERS WITH CHRONIC HEPATITIS C IN THE PENNSYLVANIA DOC

Contacts:
David Rudovsky, Esq.
: 215-925-4400, drudovsky@klrawphila.com
Su Ming Yeh, Esq. (PA Institutional Law Project): 215-925-2966, smyeh@pailp.org

Philadelphia, PA, November 19, 2018:

Plaintiffs’ counsel announced a proposed landmark settlement in a class action lawsuit against the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections that would provide much-needed medical treatment for thousands of prisoners with Chronic Hepatitis C.

“Chronic Hepatitis C is the most lethal of all viral illnesses in the United States. In its early stages, it can cause painful and debilitating conditions of fatigue; muscle, joint, and bone pain; and depression. Left untreated, the virus will eventually cause liver failure, high risks of liver cancer, and death. ‘The new DAA treatment is highly effective in curing the disease with a simple regimen of pills and without serious side effects,’ explained Su Ming Yeh, Deputy Director of the Pennsylvania Institutional Law Project. ‘The health of thousands of prisoners will be improved now that they will have access to this potentially life-saving medication.’”

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