Judge: Inmates on Hunger Strike Can be Force-Fed

California prison officials have obtained a federal court order to allow force-feeding and other steps to keep prison hunger strikers alive even if they declared they do not want such medical intervention.
August 20, 2013

California prison officials have obtained a federal court order to allow force-feeding and other steps to keep prison hunger strikers alive even if they declared they do not want such medical intervention.

In a filing Monday afternoon to U.S. District Judge Thelton Henderson, the state argued there is a "risk that inmates may be or have been coerced into participating in the hunger strike" and signed those papers against their will.

Henderson agreed, signing an order that would allow the state to involuntarily feed any prisoner it deems was coerced into signing a "Do Not Resuscitate" order, as well as those who signed such papers just before the July 8 protest began.

It also allows involuntary feeding of those prisoners who a state doctor decides have "become incompetent to give consent or make medical decisions." That includes inmates who may be unconscious, said Joyce Hayhoe, a spokeswoman for the prison medical office. "It's all based on a doctor's best medical judgment at the time," she said.

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