- Associated Press - Saturday, June 25, 2016

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - Officials with the Wisconsin Department of Corrections are force-feeding three prisoners who are on a hunger strike as part of a protest of solitary confinement, according to court documents.

Laron McKinley, 61, Norman Green, 44, and Cesar DeLeon, 34, are among six inmates who began refusing food about two weeks ago. The three have said they’re being force-fed water and a nutrition drink through a nasal tube, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported (https://bit.ly/28TWvqx).

Inmates in Wisconsin can be force-fed if a physical evaluation finds death or severe harm is likely without intervention.

Corrections spokesman Tristan Cook said in a statement to The Associated Press that he can’t comment on a specific inmate’s medical or mental health status. But he said the department has been working on reforming restrictive housing policies over the last several years.

The protest is part of a campaign to end the practice of holding inmates in solitary confinement for extended time periods.

McKinley has been convicted of multiple crimes, including attempted homicide; Green is serving time for first-degree homicide; DeLeon was convicted of armed robbery, kidnapping and other crimes.

In a physician’s report filed in Columbia County Circuit Court, Jeffrey Manlove diagnosed DeLeon with moderate to severe malnutrition and said the inmate was in imminent danger.

McKinley and DeLeon have said they will continue to refuse food until their demands are met.

“I believe this retaliatory treatment will continue until they break us,” DeLeon wrote. “But it’s going to take a lot more (than) putting tubes down my nose … to break me.”

The practice of force-feeding prisoners has been criticized by the United Nations, the American Medical Association and the American Civil Liberties Union.

Cook, from the Department of Corrections, said the department has already implemented some changes to its solitary confinement policies. Among them, the maximum length of stay is 90 days, with some exceptions.

The department also has a workgroup that’s reviewing its restrictive housing practices, with the overall goal of minimizing such placements and length of stay in restrictive housing.

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Information from: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, https://www.jsonline.com

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