The student-run Prison Healthcare Initiative spent three years advocating for a prisoner serving a life sentence
By the end of her first day at Columbia Law School, Chijindu Obiofuma ’18 had started a student-run group that would become the Prison Healthcare Initiative (PHI).
While sitting in Professor Bernard Harcourt’s section of Legal Methods in the fall of 2015, Obiofuma listened intently as Harcourt talked on speaker phone with Phil Tomlin, a pro bono client serving a life sentence in Alabama. On the call, Tomlin, 64, mentioned that he did not feel well. “He said his eyes were yellowing and thought he had hepatitis C,” recalls Obiofuma, who simultaneously began texting questions about hepatitis to her mother who is a nurse. “He said he was in abysmal pain and that other inmates were experiencing the same things.