The medical staff of a prison institution can take steps to end an inmates hunger strike in order to preserve his health and life was the ruling made by a Schuylkill County judge following a hearing in court recently.

Prison authorities from the state correctional institution in Ryan Township filed a petition against Eric Lyons, an inmate, who went without eating for 30 consecutive meals from Dec. 19 through 30, claiming his action disrupted the operation of the institution and interferred with provision of medical care to the many inmates at the institution who are ill. On direction of a physician Lyons was placed in a cell reserved for medical and suicide prone patients.

Judge Jacqueline Russell held a hearing and handed down the ruling. In her opinion she wrote that Lyons told the court he had no intention of committing suicide by his action but did it because of dissatisfaction with action at the institution relative in the manner his correspondence being mailed and other perceived injusticies which he wanted to have resolved and that was the reason for his hunger strike.

Russell ruled the medical staff at the institution is permitted when it appears that immediate relief is necessary to preserve the health and life of an inmate who refuses to eat solid food or drink liquids to involuntarily examine and perform needed diagnostic tests, including blood and urin to preserve his life and induce him to eat. The judge also ruled the authorities do not need to file a petition to court to seek permission to deal with such a matter each time it occurs.