California seeks judge's OK to force-feed inmates

Prisoner Hunger Strike

Paul Sakuma/AP

Demonstrators hold up a sign during a rally in front of the State Building in San Francisco, Friday, July 1, 2011 to support prisoners at Pelican Bay State Prison.

California prison officials with the backing of a federal health care receiver are seeking court permission to force-feed inmates who have been participating in a hunger strike that is entering its seventh week.

Officials say they are concerned about the health of nearly 70 inmates who have refused all prison-issued meals since the strike began July 8 over the state's holding of gang leaders in decades-long solitary confinement.

Prison policy is to let inmates die if they have a legally binding do-not-resuscitate request. But corrections officials and the federal authority who oversees prison medical care filed a motion Monday in U.S. District Court in San Francisco asking for authority to feed inmates near death.

That authority, if granted, would cover some who asked not to be revived.

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