Canyon County

Canyon County inmates say jail gave them used razors, and some contracted hepatitis C

Seven inmates at the Canyon County jail claim that a sheriff’s deputy gave them used razors while in custody and that they contracted hepatitis C.

The inmates filed tort claims in May against the Canyon County Sheriff’s Office, through attorney Chip Giles, of Giles & Thompson Law. The Idaho Statesman obtained copies of the tort claims through a records request. A tort claim prefaces a lawsuit against a government agency and contains allegations of wrongdoing, but the claims are not yet substantiated.

The tort claims allege that on March 25, deputy Trayton Meyers provided inmates in “F pod” of the jail with razors that “were retrieved from the bio-hazard box and had previously been used by other inmates.”

The tort claims allege that blood tests determined that seven of the inmates tested positive for hepatitis C, which they had not previously been diagnosed with or exposed to, according to the document.

Hepatitis C is a blood-borne virus that causes a liver infection, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. There is no preventative vaccine for hep C, which spreads through blood transfer.

An estimated 2.4 million people in the United States are living with hepatitis C, and the most common cause of transmission is shared needles among injection drug users, according to the CDC.

The tort claims ask for damages in the amount of at least $500,000 per claimant, noting that treatment for hepatitis C is “costly” and the claimants will suffer “future economic loss.”

Canyon County spokesman Joe Decker told the Idaho Statesman on Wednesday that the county does not comment “on pending notices or potential litigation.” The tort claims have been forwarded to the county’s insurer, the Idaho Counties Risk Management Program.

The Statesman reached out to Giles for further comment Wednesday but he was not immediately available.

Related stories from Idaho Statesman

Reporter Ruth Brown covers the criminal justice and correctional systems in Idaho. She focuses on breaking news, public safety and social justice. Prior to coming to the Idaho Statesman, she was a reporter at the Idaho Press-Tribune, the Bakersfield Californian and the Idaho Falls Post Register.