Judge approves force-feeding inmates
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — 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. That's what doctors do. They're going to follow their medical ethics,” Hayhoe said. “We'd take any and all measures to sustain their life.”
The process, which prison officials call “refeeding,” could include starting intravenous fluids or snaking feeding tubes through inmates' noses and into their stomachs.
Prison officials already can seek a court order forcing an individual inmate to take food, though they have not done so. Now they and the receiver's office are jointly asking for blanket permission to take that step without seeking orders on a case-by-case basis.
The federal and state officials were joined in the request by the Prison Law Office, a Berkeley-based nonprofit that represents inmates' welfare in ongoing lawsuits that led to a federal takeover of the prison health care system and a requirement that the state sharply reduce its inmate population to improve conditions.
They want Henderson to let the chief medical executive at each prison act if a hunger striker is at risk of “near-term death or great bodily injury” or is no longer deemed competent to give consent or make medical decisions.
Moreover, do-not-resuscitate directives would not be honored if the medical executive reasonably believes the inmate was coerced into signing the request or if an attorney representing the inmate revokes the request.
Do-not-resuscitate orders signed by a hunger striker at or near the beginning of the strike or during the hunger strike would automatically be deemed invalid.
“Force-feeding violates international law to the extent that it involves somebody who doesn't give their consent,” said Jules Lobel, president of the Center for Constitutional Rights, who represents 10 inmates suing to end prolonged solitary confinement at Pelican Bay State Prison.
Lobel said prison officials should look for alternatives, including providing the inmates with a liquid diet of fruit and vegetable drinks as they have requested, or negotiating with inmates over their demands.
However, Lobel said he will not seek to overturn Henderson's order.
Prison officials said Monday that inmates are free to consume a liquid diet, but will be counted as having ended their hunger strike if they consume anything more than water, vitamins and electrolytes.
The most high-profile case of force-feeding prisoners has been the involuntary feeding of several dozen terrorism suspects held at Guantanamo Bay through nasal tubes.
SMS and The Future of Public Safety Alerts
As mobile adoption rates continue to surge globally, television and radio announcements along with traditional tornado sirens and other public emergency distress signals may get some company in the form of SMS messages blasted out to mobile devices.
According to a fast-growing contingency of public safety officials, mobile devices are the ultimate gateway to alerting the public of dangers heading their way. From inclement weather to potential terror attacks, the public – experts contend – must be targeted where they are most accessible. And that's now on their mobile devices.
In Australia, for example, SMS public emergency alerts are already being deployed by local governments.
Over the weekend, the Victorian Government began testing location-based technology to send emergency alerts to all mobile phones.
During the tests, text messages will be sent to mobile phones on the Optus, Vodafone and Telstra networks. The system, which was a recommendation from the Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission, will be tested in nine locations across metropolitan and regional Victoria.
According to ABC News, the State Government says the messages indicated they are test messages and no action is required.
If the current trend continues, SMS-based public emergency announcements may be standard in the U.S. and elsewhere in the world by the end of the decade.
From the Department of Homeland Security
Appointment of New Deputy Under Secretary for Cybersecurity
by Janet Napolitano -- Secretary DHS
Over the past four and a half years, cybersecurity has become one of the top priorities at the Department of Homeland Security. Today, I am pleased to announce the appointment of Phyllis Schneck as the new Deputy Under Secretary for Cybersecurity for the National Protection and Programs Directorate (NPPD). Phyllis will be coming to the Department of Homeland Security from her current position as Vice President and Chief Technology Officer for the Global Public Sector at McAfee, Inc. with a wealth of experience in cybersecurity and information security.
For more than 14 years, Phyllis has had a distinguished presence in the security and infrastructure protection community, most recently as a key contributor on the CSIS Commission on Cybersecurity for the 44th Presidency. Phyllis is the current Chairman of the Board of Directors of the National Cyber Forensics and Training Alliance, a partnership between corporations, government and law enforcement for cyber analysis to combat international cyber crime. Phyllis has also served as the Chairman of the NIST Information Security and Privacy Advisory Board, which helps identify emerging managerial, technical, administrative, and physical safeguard issues relative to information security and privacy.
Before joining McAfee, Phyllis held various senior and information science positions at Research Integration for Secure Computing, eCommSecurity, SecureWorks, Inc., Avalon Communications, CygnaCom Solutions, the MITRE Corporation, Computer Sciences Corporation, IBM, NASA and the University Of Maryland.
Phyllis has been a close partner in our cybersecurity mission for many years. She served for eight years as chairman of the FBI's InfraGard National Board of Directors and founding president of InfraGard Atlanta, growing the InfraGard program to over 30,000 members nationwide in the past decade, and fostering a relationship between InfraGard and DHS. Equally impressive, Phyllis holds three patents in high-performance and adaptive information security, and has six research publications in the areas of information security, real-time systems, telecom and software engineering.
During my tenure as Secretary, we have strengthened partnerships with the private sector to secure cyber networks and protect physical assets while developing a world-class cybersecurity workforce. In fact, the position of Deputy Under Secretary for Cybersecurity was created in 2011 to act as the Department's chief cybersecurity policy official, in recognition of the growing importance of cybersecurity to DHS' mission of strengthening the security and resilience of our nation's critical infrastructure. I am confident that Phyllis will continue these efforts, and build upon the foundations laid by her predecessors, to create a safe, secure and resilient cyber environment and promote cybersecurity knowledge and innovation.