Hunger Strikes: A Prisoner's right or a 'Wicked Folly'?

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The decision to allow the force-feeding of Ian Brady raises many complex ethical and legal issues. Early case law sanctioned force-feeding, as suicide was illegal. However, this raises the question of whether death by hunger-strike is suicide, or simply an exercise of the right to self- determination. Recent case law provides a mixed message. Some cases recognise the duty of the prison authorities to intervene, others that it is merely a power, whilst a third category emphasises self determination. American case law also fails to give clear guidance on the constitutionality of force-feeding. This article examines the case law, and considers the impact of the Human Rights Act 1998 on the force-feeding of hunger-striking prisoners.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)285-296
Number of pages12
JournalHoward Journal of Criminal Justice
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2001


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