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Federal Judge grants state to force-feed inmates on hunger strike

California prison officials now have a federal court order to allow force-feeding hunger strike prisoners in a medical emergency.

The order will allow prison medical staff to revive a prisoner who becomes incompetent to make medical decisions. Nearly 130 inmates are still refusing their state meals in California prisons, but officials say they’re most concerned about a core group of 43 inmates who have refused food since the strike first started July 8th.  They add it's tough to determine which prisoners are exercising free will or coercion, so the order gives medical staff authority to keep strikers alive.

“We have no one in the system near death,” said Director of Healthcare Operations for the prison medical receiver’s office Steve Tharratt, “We have no one in the system that has been rendered mentally incompetent due to the effects of starvation. But we could very easily if this hunger strike continues.”

The staff says the re-feeding would be intravenously in emergency situations. Still, prison rights advocates say force-feeding inmates violates international law and medical ethics. Officials say a very small number of inmates have signed a do not resuscitate order. Officials will honor their wishes. But the majority of 43 inmates will be monitored for any signs of incoherence.