California Prisons Can Force-Feed Inmates on Hunger Strike, Rules Federal Judge
If dozens of hunger-striking California state prison inmates are so close to death that they must be force-fed, the method will likely be less invasive than what was used on terror suspects at Guantanamo Bay, the prison system’s top medical services official said.
U.S. military officials came under heavy criticism from human rights advocates when they snaked feeding tubes through the noses and into the stomachs of terror suspects who refused to eat.
California prison officials won a court order saying they could force-feed dozens of inmates who have been on a hunger strike for six weeks over solitary confinement conditions.
Dr. Steven Tharratt, director of medical services for the federal official who oversees medical care for California’s prisons, said if the state employs force-feeding, it’s most likely to be done by pumping nutrient-enriched fluids into the bloodstreams of unconscious inmates.
“It’s not really a forced re-feeding at that point,” Tharratt said. “It doesn’t evoke images of Guantanamo Bay or anything like that. It’s actually a totally different setting.”
State prison officials have struggled to deal with a hunger strike that started last month and, at its height, involved thousands of inmates. There are 45 inmates who have refused anything more than water, vitamins and electrolytes since July 8 to protest the yearslong isolation of gang leaders.