SACRAMENTO, Calif - California medical officials say they're keeping a watchful eye on more than 100 inmates entering their 7th week of a hunger strike. Now a federal judge has granted the state's request to force-feed the inmates if necessary, reports the Associated Press.
Medical staff members are visiting inmates at several prisons to warn them about the long term effects from refusing to eat. "In some cases, they cause permanent damage, that there may not be anyway for them to get back to the health that they had before. So that's a continual part of what we do when we talk to inmates," said Joyce Hayhoe, spokesperson for Federal Receiver's office.
Hayhoe says doctors are working longer hours and it is costing more taxpayer dollars to monitor the situation.
Prison policy is to let inmates starve to death if they have signed legally binding do-not-resuscitate requests, reports the Associated Press. However, they now have a judge's permison to force the inmates to eat.
However, "If an inmate gets to the point where he can't tell us what his wishes are, for instance if he's found unresponsive in his cell, and we don't have a DNR, we're going to get nourishment into him. That's what doctors do. They're going to follow their medical ethics," Hayhoe said. "We'd take any and all measures to sustain their life."
The hunger striking inmates are protesting the state's solitary confinement policies for gang leaders and other violent inmates.