A prison inmate on a 17-month long hunger strike testified on the last day of a hearing into whether the state can continue force-feeding him. William Coleman described the force-feedings as the worst pain he's felt in his life.
"I can't imagine I could be screaming any louder, I don't remember screaming as loud as that since I was a kid."
William Coleman described to the court the pain he felt on two occasions when prison medical staff inserted a tube through his nose and into his stomach to feed him a nutritional drink. Coleman testified that he had told staff that he didn't want to be force-fed and that the pain was caused by the doctor's multiple attempts to insert the feeding tube.
Medical Director for the state Department of Corrections, Dr Edward Blanchette, had testified earlier in the trial that the force-feedings were necessary since Coleman's health was in danger. He also said Coleman did not scream out during the procedure and that he refused to drink water to make the tube insertion a little easier.
Coleman says drinking water would have violated his hunger strike.
"At that point I had stopped taking fluids. And taking water would have meant consuming fluids. I wasn't able to do that."
Prison doctors say Coleman has lost almost 100 pounds since he began his hunger strike in 2007 to protest what Coleman calls a corrupt judicial system. He was convicted of rape in 2005 but he maintains he's innocent.
During the cross-examination, Assistant Attorney General Lynn Wittenbrink, said Coleman's hunger strike was meant to get media attention. She read from several letters that Coleman sent to family and friends telling them how to attract media to his case. The state has argued that Coleman's actions may encourage other inmates to go on hunger strikes.
The state Department of Corrections is asking the judge to grant a permanent injunction so the force-feedings can continue.
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