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Maine: inmates with hepatitis sue for treatment
  Tuesday, August 12, 2003, Associated Press
WARREN - Two Bolduc Correctional Facility prisoners infected with hepatitis C want the state to treat their disease, but don't want to be transferred from their minimum security facility to the Maine State Prison to do it. Inmates Donald Bowden, 22, and John J. Morton, 36, have hepatitis C, or HCV.
This fall, the state Department of Corrections will implement an HCV treatment program. One of the requirements for participating in the medical regimen is to live at the Maine State Prison.
But Bowden and Morton don't want to be transferred to the state prison. "I spent 15 months up in that war zone, thank you," Morton said. "When you have people doing double life sentences, they don't mind cutting you up." The two say they plan to sue the state for not implementing a treatment program sooner and for making them transfer facilities to receive the treatment.
On July 17, the men filed a lawsuit in Knox County Superior Court but it was returned for a $100 filing fee, they said. They are filing indigent forms and plan to resubmit the complaint.
The men claim the state has denied medical treatment for their disease, and thus discriminated against them because inmates with AIDS are provided with similar costly treatment benefits.
The two men are currently in a minimum-security facility commonly known as the prison farm. Inmates with five years or fewer remaining on their sentences may qualify to live in one of the minimum-security units, where prisoners may roam freely indoors or outside the buildings.
"This is rehabilitation, if you ask me," Bowden said. Eleven percent, or 209, of the state's 1,995 inmates have hepatitis C, Associate Commissioner Denise Lord said. Ten inmates in the state system have AIDS, she said.
The lengthy list of eligibility criteria for the treatment program includes having fewer than two years remaining in an inmate's prison sentence to provide adequate time to complete treatment, she said. The annual treatment cost per inmate ranges from $11,000 to $25,000.
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