Convicted armed robber William Lecuyer, 34, stopped eating in March 2012, angry over what he called an unfair punishment over a drug test. The former high school football lineman who once weighed 230 pounds is down to 120 pounds, the (Newark, N.J.) Star-Ledger reported Thursday.
If the state does not bend its guidelines to allow Lecuyer see a log book he claims will prove he did not break prison regulations two years ago, he could die with just four more years on his sentence. If the state complies, it could give other inmates license to protest as a means to get their way, prison officials say.
"The prison administration cannot allow itself to be coerced by an inmate," said Martin Horn, former New York City corrections commissioner.
The state Attorney General's Office went to court in July, asking if New Jersey Prison officials could force-feed him, but the court said Lecuyer had a First Amendment right to refuse food.
He has managed to stay alive, but barely. His lips have gone gray and his mind wanders, his attorney, Jean Ross said, adding the prison medical staff has told her he has trouble breathing because he has lost muscle tone in his diaphragm.
Lecuyer sips morning coffee with milk and sugar, but refuses all solid food. At least four times in the past year he has accepted intravenous saline or electrolytes, Ross said, and once a week since December has had a nutritional drink such as Ensure.
She added the drinks increase his blood pressure, a sign his vital organs are shutting down.