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“The only thing necessary for these diseases to the triumph is for good people and governments to do nothing.”

Hepatitis C (Hepatitis C Virus) at the Central California Women's Facility (CCWF) 

Pamela Murphy, aka "PJ," was looking forward to her parole date in April, 2000. Looking forward to spending some quality time with her family. This was especially important, because PJ had AIDS and Hepatitis C Virus, and not much time. Needless to say, she did not make it out of CCWF, and passed away over the Labor Day weekend. 

If we are to believe "inmate rumor," when the autopsy was done, it was discovered that her abdominal cavity was filled with blood. I would venture to say that "inmate rumor" was right on the money. 

PJ's death was not sudden, not unexpected. Any untrained eye could clearly see her dying a little more each day. I only wonder why the medical staff at CCWF could not (or would not) see! For months prior to her death, there was a constant flow of blood from her nose. She was constantly sniffing (as if she had a cold) the blood back into her nose so that it would not run down her face. Her abdomen was swollen so that it appeared that she was in her second or third trimester of pregnancy. 

In the last days before her passing, PJ was so jaundiced that her eyes were the florescent yellow of a caution sign. She was obviously in liver failure, but was still being given handfuls of liver toxic HIV medications at the med window. She should have been pulled off of all medications and hospitalized until she could have (possibly) been stabilized. 



PJ's story, I know, is horrifying to hear. Trust that it was horrifying, heartbreaking and frustrating to see. PJ's story, sadly, is not unique. There are two other women currently here that will soon be in her position, and are alas. . . receiving little, and in one case, NO care! 

When a woman enters this institution, a routine battery of tests is run, including a hepatitis panel. This is how an inmate is cleared for food handling (or not). Recently, many women (who have already been incarcerated for a period of years) are "finding out" about their Hepatitis C Virus status. In a few cases, because they have started displaying symptoms that are severe enough to request medical attention, only to find that a positive Hepatitis C Virus result was recorded in their medical files all along. Now they are cirrhotic and will never be considered for treatment here. 

You have to wonder, how much of this could have been avoided with early intervention? The numbers are numbing - 69% of female inmates, 54% of male inmates, 63,500 inmates (estimated) statewide! Who cares about a bunch of prisoners that are already safety locked away? Imagine 63,500 people unaware of the infection they carry, uneducated, untreated, being released to unsuspecting families and into communities. I wonder how many future infections could be avoided with an effective education/treatment program here? 



I read somewhere that $300,000 was allocated for Hepatitis C Virus treatment in the California Department of Corrections this year. Enough to treat about 15 people for one year. I wonder, which 15? 

Judy Ricci, W69939 
CCWF, C11-16-1L 
P.O. Box 1508
Chowchilla, CA 93210-1508