SACRAMENTO, Calif. A federal judge approved a request from California and federal officials on Monday to force-feed inmates if necessary as a statewide prison hunger strike entered its seventh week.
Officials say they fear for the welfare of nearly 70 inmates who have refused all prison-issued meals since the strike began July 8 over the holding of gang leaders and other violent inmates in solitary confinement that can last for decades.
They are among nearly 130 inmates in six prisons who were refusing meals.
When the strike began it included nearly 30,000 of the 133,000 inmates in California prisons.
Prison policy is to let inmates starve to death if they have signed legally binding do-not-resuscitate (DNR) requests. But state corrections officials and a federal receiver who controls inmate medical care received blanket authority from U.S. District Judge Thelton Henderson of San Francisco to feed inmates who may be in failing health. The order includes those who recently signed requests that they not be revived.
Henderson oversees the ongoing lawsuit over inmates' medical care. The filing Monday came as prison officials and inmates' attorneys argued over whether strikers should be allowed to voluntarily begin a liquid diet.
"Patients have a right to refuse medical treatment. They also have a right to refuse food," said Joyce Hayhoe, a spokeswoman for the receiver's office.
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.
HUNTINGTON BEACH, Calif. – Joseph Ali says onlookers thought he was drunk when he dove into the nighttime waters around a Southern California pier. But he came away with a monster of a lobster and the catch of a lifetime.
Ali tells the Orange County Register (http://bit.ly/IQe4r3) he was closing his father's business, Zack's Pier Plaza in Huntington Beach, Monday when he saw the ocean was calm and decided to dive for dinner. He was down about 15 feet going after a smaller lobster when he saw the giant. He says it was too big to grab properly but it latched onto him and he wrestled it to shore.
It weighed nearly 18 pounds — even a 5-pounder is considered trophy-sized — and was likely at least 30 years old.
Information from: The Orange County Register, http://www.ocregister.com