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Kevorkian Won't Be Force-Fed

The state of Michigan reversed its policy allowing the force-feeding of prisoners on the same day Dr. Jack Kevorkian went to prison vowing to begin a hunger strike.

The assisted-suicide advocate, sentenced Tuesday to 10 to 25 years in prison, said he would begin a hunger strike immediately, The Oakland Press reported Wednesday.

State prison officials said they reversed their policy on force-feeding the same day the 70-year-old retired pathologist was sentenced. They denied the change had anything to do with Kevorkian.

The reversal came after state lawyers realized the previous policy requiring force-feeding of an inmate was contrary to a 1996 state court order that banned a prison from feeding a man against his will.

Kevorkian attorney Mayer Morganroth questioned the timing of the policy change. "Isn't that assisted suicide?" he asked.

It wasn't known Wednesday whether Kevorkian began the hunger strike.

Under the new policy, if a prisoner refuses food or liquids for 72 hours, prison officials present a waiver to sign, stating that the inmate knows refusing nourishment will lead to death.

"It confirms that they're fully aware of what they are doing and they are doing it voluntarily," said Michigan Department of Corrections spokesman Matt Davis.

Davis said Kevorkian was taken Wednesday to the Oaks Correctional Facility in Eastlake for orientation. He will be evaluated for the next few weeks before officials decide where he will serve his sentence.

Kevorkian was convicted of second-degree murder for injecting Thomas Youk, 52, with a lethal dose of chemicals in September at Youk's request.

Kevorkian, who says he has helped 130 people kill themselves since 1990, sent a videotape of the death of the Lou Gehrig's patient to CBS News' 60 Minutes.

According to state prison rules, Kevorkian will be eligible for parole in about eight years.

By Justin Hyde

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