Water in Frackville contaminated 2,500 inmates and employees

by Gwen Debrow, originally posted on February 10, 2017


Thursday, Feb. 9, 2017, at 4 p.m., 200 South Broad St., in Philadelphia, prisoner rights advocates, concerned citizens and supporters of International Concerned Family and Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal will hold a demonstration outside Gov. Tom Wolf’s office in Philadelphia, demanding he take steps to address the water crisis at Mahanoy and Frackville state prisons. This contaminated water crisis has been going on for a few months, according to Abu-Jamal, who says the water is brown and looks like tea or coffee and is obviously undrinkable and unsafe to bathe in. Abu-Jamal is supposed to take three baths per week as mandated by the infirmary, but can’t bathe in contaminated water.

Further, the Pennsylvania Department of Correction is refusing to treat Abu-Jamal with the anti-viral medication that would cure his hepatitis C infection within 12 weeks. A federal judge in Scranton, Pa., Judge Robert Mariani, ruled Jan. 3 that Abu-Jamal must be treated immediately with the fast-acting anti-viral medication within 21 days.

To date, not only has the PA DOC ignored the ruling, they are now appealing the decision, putting Abu-Jamal’s life (and those of approximately 7,000 similarly infected inmates) in jeopardy by delaying treatment. Abu-Jamal filed a grievance with the chief grievance officer regarding denial of treatment for his active hepatitis C, and their response was that “reasonable and appropriate” care is being provided. The Bureau of Health Care Services further stated, “You are currently not a candidate for treatment under the current protocol.” They wrote that there is no evidence of neglect or deliberate indifference on their part. Therefore, his requested relief is denied. Meanwhile, Abu-Jamal has a 14 percent chance of developing liver cancer. Each year he goes without the anti-viral medication, the closer he and others suffering needlessly come to dying. Couple this lack of treatment with the current and ongoing water contamination crisis that is not being addressed at Mahanoy, Frackville and other penal institutions throughout Pennsylvania.

To further illustrate the water contamination, take a look at the grievance filed by Mumia as to how bad the water is at Mahanoy:



Jane Hinman, Assistant to Superintendent

FROM: M. A. Jamal #AM8335

A. Provide a brief, clear statement of your grievance. Additional paper may be used, maximum two pages …. State all relief that you are seeking.

Over the last several months, I have repeatedly complained of dirty, brackish, turbid, even black water in the infirmary’s tub. In my discussions with c/o Easterday, I’ve confirmed this situation several times. I’ve received several responses from my prior grievances, which I believe are misleading, incorrect and untrue.

Several weeks ago, c/o Easterday informed me that he was told by someone looking into this issue that the water’s discoloration stems from the water pooling in the pipes (or words to that effect), and if one simply let the water run for five minutes, it would clear up.

When I reported for my medically prescribed bath today (around 8:30 due to waiting some 20-25 minutes in the pill line because of the length of the line), I found the water, upon running, dark, turbid and quite discolored. I again showed it to c/o Easterday, who repeated what he told me several weeks earlier.

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