Civil Rights

Judge order allows force-feeding of inmates on hunger strike

Prison officials in California obtained a federal court order that would allow them to begin force-feeding inmates who are continuing a hunger strike that began July 8 to protest the conditions of isolation units and food quality.

State officials argued in a filing Monday that there is a “risk that inmates may be or have been coerced into participating in the hunger strike,” the Los Angeles Times reports. U.S. District Judge Thelton Henderson agreed and signed an order allowing intervention.

The order allows force-feeding even those inmates who signed “do not resuscitate” documents if it is determined that the individual was coerced into signing DNRs in preparation for the hunger strike.

Prisoners’ rights lawyer Jules Lobel, president of the Center for Constitutional Rights, decried Monday’s order, saying it violates international law and medical ethics.

Lobel represents several hunger strike leaders in a lawsuit over solitary confinement conditions at Pelican Bay State Prison. He told the Los Angeles Times in a separate article that prison officials could avoid force feedings by allowing protesters to drink juice. Or prison officials could negotiation with inmates over issues the state finds reasonable. The Times notes that one hunger strike ended last week when the warden agreed to expand canteen and television privileges.

Also see:

Los Angeles Times: “Prison hunger strike: Medical chief says order allows key decisions”

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