Published time: August 31, 2013 03:59
California prisoners on hunger strike to protest solitary confinement policies are losing dangerous amounts of weight, even though they have been allowed to drink sports drinks and eat vitamins to help protect against starvation.
The hunger strike is approaching the end of its second month,
with 123 inmates across 30 prisons refusing food. Fifteen of the
123 inmates have lost dangerous amounts of weight, while nearly
all others have experienced feelings of weakness and low body
temperature, Liz Gransee, a spokeswoman for the officer in charge
of prison healthcare told Reuters Friday.
“Some of them aren’t handling this as well as the others,”
she said. “Some of them have had IV fluids multiple
Forty-one inmates have consistently refused food since the strike
began on July 8, with others joining and leaving the strike
Many have subsisted on vitamins and sports drinks, including
Gatorade, a popular sports drink in the US that replenishes
electrolytes and can provide inmates with 625 calories each day,
slowing the progress of a prisoners’ starvation.
The average 30-year-old man must consume between 2400 and 2600
calories every day, part of the reason Gatorade will not be
enough to save an individual’s life, Elena Kret-Sudjian the
medical director of clinical nutrition at the University of
California Davis Medical Center, told Reuters.
“When the body burns fat it also burns the muscle and it’s
very dangerous. When humans lose 40 percent of muscle they will
die,” Kret-Sudjian said. “People may feel initially very
irritable, even depressed. They may have reduced body
temperature, be extremely sensitive to cold, or have chronic
diarrhoea, decreased sex drive and other
This strike is the second in California in just a few years. At
its peak, 30,000 inmates throughout the state were involved in
the demonstration against solitary confinement policies that
isolate gang leaders indefinitely, sometimes for decades.
Earlier this month a federal judge granted the California
Department of Corrections permission to begin force-feeding
inmates who appeared to be on the verge of death. The so-called
“refeeding” process involves feeding prisoners intravenous fluids
through their noses and into their stomachs. Judge Henderson
instructed officials to act only if the chief medical executive
at a facility determines a hunger striker is at risk of
“near-term death or great bodily injury.”
Both prison officials and attorneys representing the remaining
demonstrators claim they are willing to compromise. Lawmakers say
the effort is fueled by gang leaders seeking more power behind
bars, while inmates’ attorneys have repeatedly told the media
they are seeking a compromise to benefit both parties.
“Being rational seems to have left this debate,” Jeanne
Woodford, former head of the California prison system under
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, told the Los Angeles Times.
“It’s people who have dug their heels in on both sides.”
Republished from: RT