Some 136 California inmates are currently taking part in a hunger strike that began July 8 to demand changes to housing policies for gang members. After concerns arose that some hunger strikers had been coerced into refusing food, the court ruled Monday that the prisons can force-feed inmates.
California authorities won court approval on Monday to force-feed some prisoners on a hunger strike after officials voiced concerns that inmates may have been coerced into refusing food in a protest against the state's solitary confinement policies.
U.S. District Court Judge Thelton E. Henderson, responding to a request by state authorities, ruled that California prison doctors may force-feed select inmates near death, even if they had previously signed orders asking not to be resuscitated.
Some 136 California inmates are currently taking part in a hunger strike that began July 8 in prisons statewide to demand an end to a policy of housing inmates believed to be associated with gangs in near-isolation for years. Some 69 of the striking inmates have refused food continuously since the strike began.
This is the second time prisoners have launched a hunger strike to protest the state's practice of housing some inmates for years in its four Security Housing Units.
About 4,500 prisoners were housed in the units when the strike began, officials said. State officials say the units are needed to stem the influence of prison gangs – and in fact, administrators have repeatedly characterized the hunger strike as a power grab by gang leaders.