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California Prison Hunger Strike: Would force-feeding be legal, ethical, moral?

Should force-feeding in prisons be legal?
Should force-feeding in prisons be legal?
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Thousands of California inmates have been on a hunger strike since early last week in protest of prisons’ use of indefinite solitary confinement and calling better overall prison conditions.  Thirty thousand prisoners were a part of the strike at its start, but the number has fallen to just over 4,000 in the protest that involves two-thirds of California prisons. The strike raises questions over whether force-feeding inmates will be considered.

As the debate over force-feeding at Guantanamo Bay heats up and some lawmakers call for its end, what would California Corrections do? It has said there are no plans to start force-feeding inmates as of yet, but courts say prisons can force-feed inmates if it’s necessary to maintain safety and order. Should inmates be allowed to go hungry if it endangers their own safety? 


Christie Thompson, Reporter, ProPublica

Scott Kernan, Retired Undersecretary of Operations, California Dept. of Corrections and Rehabilitation

Jon Eisenberg, Attorney, Horvitz & Levy LLP

Margo Schlanger, Professor of Law, University of Michigan