Chino State Prison, US (AFP Photo)
A US federal judge ruled that state and federal prison officials in California will be allowed to start force-feeding inmates participating in a nearly two-month-long hunger strike, if the prisoners appear to be approaching their death.
The California Department of Corrections, in conjunction with federal officials, requested the permission on Friday, saying they were concerned about the health of approximately 70 inmates who have refused meals since July 8. Roughly 130 inmates across California remain on hunger-strike, protesting the policy of isolating gang leaders and violent offenders in solitary confinement indefinitely.
Prison officials already have the power to compel inmates to eat, although that process requires a court order for each individual. Monday’s court order, signed by US District Judge Thelton Henderson, allows the Department of Corrections to skip the case-by-case scenario and instead force-feed all inmates, including those who recently signed legally-binding “do not resuscitate” (DNR) requests.
The demonstration initially included 30,000 of the 133,000 prisoners in California. Under current prison policy, inmates are allowed to starve to death if they refuse their food and have signed DNR requests, AP reported.
The so-called “refeeding” process involves feeding prisoners intravenous fluids through their noses and into their stomachs. Judge Henderson instructed officials to act only if the chief medical executive at a facility determines a hunger striker is at risk of “near-term death or great bodily injury.”
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- Calif. wins federal judge’s approval to feed hunger-strike inmates (sacbee.com)
- Request granted to force-feed California inmates on weeks-long hunger strike (theprovince.com)
- California hunger strike: judge approves force-feeding (theguardian.com)
- California to force-feed prisoners (bbc.co.uk)