Former Inmate Accuses Mississippi Prison System of Negligence and Chemically Induced Breast Cancer in Groundbreaking Lawsuit

Jackson, Mississippi – Susie Balfour, a former inmate at the Central Mississippi Correctional Facility, has filed a lawsuit alleging that she was denied proper medical care and exposed to cancer-causing chemicals while in prison. The lawsuit, filed in federal court in the southern district of Mississippi, accuses the companies that provided healthcare services to the Mississippi Department of Corrections of negligence.

Balfour, who served a 30-year sentence for manslaughter, claims that she began experiencing painful lumps in her breasts in 2011. Despite a mammogram showing possible signs of breast cancer, she was denied the recommended annual check-ups. Over the next decade, her pain persisted, until she was finally diagnosed with terminal breast cancer in December 2021, just days before her release.

The suit alleges that Balfour’s exposure to potentially carcinogenic chemicals, including glyphosate, contributed to her cancer. Glyphosate, a weedkiller, has been classified as “probably carcinogenic to humans” by the World Health Organization. Balfour states that she frequently performed cleaning duties without protective equipment, exposing herself to these chemicals.

According to Balfour, her doctors recommended regular screenings and closer attention to the growths detected in her breasts. However, she claims that she only received mammograms sporadically. Each mammogram revealed that the microcalcifications in her breasts had grown, but doctors dismissed them as benign.

The lawsuit also claims that at least 15 other inmates at the Central Mississippi Correctional Facility have cancer but are not receiving the necessary treatment. Balfour believes that the healthcare providers contracted by the Mississippi Department of Corrections failed to fulfill their duty and neglected the medical needs of the incarcerated population.

The companies named in the lawsuit, including Merit Health Central, VitalCore Health Strategies, Wexford Health Sources, and Centurion of Mississippi, have either declined to comment or not responded to inquiries.

Balfour’s attorney, Drew Tominello, argues that the contracts between the Mississippi Department of Corrections and its healthcare providers incentivized the reduction of tests conducted on inmates, potentially compromising their well-being.

Meanwhile, Balfour continues to undergo treatment for her Stage 4 breast cancer, which has spread to her lymph nodes and thoracic spine. Uncertain about the amount of time she has left to live, she remains concerned for other inmates with unaddressed healthcare needs in the prison.

The lawsuit highlights the importance of providing adequate medical care to incarcerated individuals and raises questions about the accountability of private companies contracted by correctional facilities. As the legal battle unfolds, Balfour’s case brings attention to the need for comprehensive healthcare policies within the prison system.