Judge: OK to Force-Feed Calif. Inmates

Backs officials' request as 129 remain on hunger strike
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 20, 2013 6:44 AM CDT
Force-Feeding Approved in Calif. Hunger Strike
n this Aug. 17, 2011 file photo, reporters inspect one of the two-tiered cell pods in the Secure Housing Unit at the Pelican Bay State Prison near Crescent City, Calif.   (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, file)

As a prison hunger strike continues in California, a federal judge has given officials the go-ahead to force-feed inmates. The procedure is allowed if a prison's medical chief finds that an inmate is "at risk of near-term death or great bodily injury" or can't make his or her own medical decisions. Some 129 prisoners are currently on strike; 69 have been at it since the strike began in early July, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.

The state Department of Corrections, the prison health care head, and an attorney with a prison-related activist organization sought force-feeding permission; within hours, the district judge had approved it. Officials, however, have no specific plans to carry out the procedure yet. Hunger-strike activists have slammed the move. "For the state of California to ask the courts for permission to violate international law by force-feeding, instead of seriously sitting down with these people to negotiate, makes it very clear that they're not interested in coming up with a law-abiding solution to ... a peaceful protest," says one. (Read more California stories.)

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