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Tenn. lawsuit attorney: "A prison sentence shouldn't be a death sentence."


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WMOT)  --  Two Tennessee inmates with Hepatitis C are suing the State Department of Corrections, claiming they’re not getting proper medical care for the disease.

The advocacy group Disability Rights Tennessee is partnering with inmate plaintiffs Charles Graham and Russell L. Davis to bring the suit, filed Monday in federal court.

Graham and Davis claim the state is ignoring their illnesses because the most effective Hepatitis drugs are expensive. The site WebMD notes that a 12 week course of one hepatitis medication can cost more than $66,000.

Earlier this year an investigation by the Tennessean newspaper determined that there are nearly 3,500 inmates with Hepatitis C in state prisons, but only eight are receiving a treatment that could cure them.

Plaintiff’s attorney Liz Logsdon argues “a prison sentence shouldn’t be a death sentence.” She also believes treating the inmates is in the tax paying public’s best interest.

“The vast majority of Tennesseans who are incarcerated will eventually be released, and this is an opportunity that we have to get those infections treated and prevent the spread of the disease further.”

In a statement sent to WMOT Monday night, Tennessee Department of Corrections spokesperson Neysa Taylor notes the department hasn’t seen the lawsuit, but says the state is “providing adequate medical care as determined by medical protocol.”

The plaintiffs are seeking class action status for the lawsuit.