This report is from Mark Taylor with Educators for Mumia who visited Mumia on January 6 with Dr. Joseph Harris. Here is his report:
1. Physical Exam: Dr. Harris did what looked to me like as thorough an exam as one can do in the Visitors room. Remember, Harris doesn’t go in with any doctor’s privileges, just as a visitor. The prison and guards inside did not let Dr. Harris take-in or write-down notes. But he checked Mumia under his sleeves, around his neck and also his feet with socks and shoes off. He also asked Mumia many questions and gave him advice, all of which I could not hear.
2. Mumia’s Current Condition. Dr. Harris sees Mumia’s present itching as a case of psoriasis that in part is the result of the stage 1 cirrhosis caused by PA’s long refusal to treat his Hep C infection. The psoriasis is not only caused by the cirrhosis, but it is one key factor. It is hard to know what the other causes are, but Mumia’s psoriasis is not worse than the many cases of psoriasis that Dr. Harris sees regularly on the outside. Mumia is not “dying” from this. But it is still serious and Dr. Harris has advised a mode of treatment (see next point).
3. Harris’ Recommendations: Dr. Harris focused on bringing relief to Mumia in two ways (1) to help him get sleep, because the is coming close to being sleep-deprived, and (2) to get him appropriate salves and creams for the itching. Dr. Harris said he was going to write a report to go to lawyers Bob Boyle and Bret Grote so they can press for implementation of his recommendations in the prison. Harris’ recommended plan is – as I understand it generally – a four or five-point graduated experiment with treatments, beginning with recommended increase in Benadryl up to stronger medications and applications for his dermatological condition (the official names of these medications and applications I do not recall, but these and the precise procedure for treatment will be in Dr. Harris’ report – IF prison admin and doctors pay any attention at all!).
4. The Limits of a Doctor’s Advice in this Situation: As to advocating for this treatment regimen, Dr. Harris emphasized that Mumia and our movement are in a different situation now, legally. Treating psoriasis of this sort is not an exact science, such that Harris could take the stand in court and say that definitely Mumia needs such and such a medical treatment, as Harris had argued before for the Harvoni cure for Hep C. Now – and any professional dermatologist Harris said would be in the same position – the treatment is more a matter of art and discernment, trying this and that. To have the freedom of experimentation and comprehensive integral care Mumia needs requires him being outside the prison.
5. Mumia Needs Release: What Mumia really needs, says Dr. Harris, is release. As for many ill and aging prisoners this is the only setting in which he can get the broad range of treatment he needs: artful experimental treatment from several doctors and therapists, attention to diet and light, exercise, freedom from the stress of prison life and so on. Only release can deal with this – for Mumia and for the many.