Posted by Lilly from ? (188.8.131.52) on Thursday, September 12, 2002 at 12:45PM :
This just in: we all have the right to die.
Judge says solitary confinement prisoners can choose to starve to death
A judge in Illinois has ruled that prison inmates can choose to starve themselves rather than endure years of solitary confinement.
Livingston County Judge Harold Frobish said the right outweighed the state's duty to keep them alive.
Two inmates have sometimes refused food to protest at conditions at the maximum-security prison in Pontiac.
John Barrell and Leon Snipes had burritos for lunch on Friday, but the prison has not tried to force-feed them when they refused other meals, said Brian Fairchild, spokesman for the Corrections Department.
Both are serving long terms for violent crimes and have been in solitary confinement because of bad behaviour. In his ruling Judge Frobish allowed the prison to keep feeding the inmates until the state decides whether to appeal.
"They are in this cubicle 24 hours a day, and they read some and then they think. And that is all there is to do," Frobish said. "This is an existence where I find these defendants suffer from extreme sensory deprivation. I find it is a miserable existence.
"I find that if these defendants choose to die in these circumstances rather than live this way, that they should have a right to do so," he concluded.
The inmates' lawyer, Robert Travers, said inmates were protesting at worsening conditions at Pontiac.
Story filed: 11:54 Saturday 7th September 2002
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