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U.S. judge allows California to force feed hunger-striking inmates

Aug. 20, 2013 at 10:03 AM   |   Comments

SACRAMENTO, Aug. 20 (UPI) -- U.S. District Judge Thelton Henderson issued a court order saying California corrections officers may force feed hunger-striking inmates to keep them alive.

The state argued in a filing Monday that there is a "risk that inmates may be or have been coerced into participating in the hunger strike" and they should therefor be force fed against their will to keep them alive, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Henderson said even those prisoners who signed a do not resuscitate directive may be force fed. Additionally, those who have "become incompetent to give consent or make medical decisions" may be force fed.

"It's all based on a doctor's best medical judgment at the time," said Joyce Hayhoe, a spokeswoman for the prison medical office.

Jules Lobel, who represents many of the prisoners in their lawsuit over solitary confinement conditions said force feeding "violates international law and generally accepted medical ethics" and "should only be used as a last resort. But here there are a number of reasonable alternatives."

Inmates in the California prison system have been on hunger strike since July 8 over conditions in solitary confinement. At least 69 inmates have refused food since the beginning and 67 have fasted for shorter periods of time, corrections officials said.

An report from the Times earlier in the month said there have been about 500 total participants in the protest.

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