Convicted murderer David Sweat on hunger strike, prompting prison to request force-feeding

Sweat said he would refuse to eat until he was transferred to another correctional facility

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Convicted murderer David Sweat is on a hunger strike at the Great Meadow correctional facility in Comstock, New York, and a court has ordered officials seek to force-feed him, according to state documents.

Dannis Bradford, superintendent of the facility, said in an April 14 petition that Sweat, who received a life sentence without the possibility of parole for the murder of a sheriff's deputy in 2002 and then escaped prison in 2015, began the strike in late March. He further requested that prison medical staff "be allowed to involuntarily feed, medicate and hydrate" the inmate.

David Sweat mugshot

David Sweat mugshot (REUTERS/New York State Police/Handout )

Judge Robert Muller on Wednesday ordered prison medical staff to force-feed Sweat, 35, if he continues refusing to eat, despite an April 19 objection from Sweat filed by his attorney saying he "objects to the requested relief and demands a hearing."

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It's not the first time Sweat has attempted to perform a hunger strike. A New York court issued previous orders regarding his hunger strikes in 2017 and 2018, according to the prison superintendent.

David Sweat is escorted out of the court house following his arraignment at Clinton County court, in Plattsburgh, New York August 20, 2015.

David Sweat is escorted out of the court house following his arraignment at Clinton County court, in Plattsburgh, New York August 20, 2015. (Christinne Muschi)

The prison superintendent cited Dr. David Karandy, a New York State Department of Corrections physician, in his petition, who submitted an April 14 affidavit in support of Bradford's request.

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In his petition, Bradford said Sweat is currently housed in an infirmary under medical supervision at Great Meadow due to his strike. Sweat missed 16th consecutive meals before he was declared to be on a hunger strike, the doctor said.

David Sweat (R) appears in court with his appointed defense attorney Joseph Mucia at his arraignment at Clinton County court, in Plattsburgh, New York August 20, 2015.

David Sweat (R) appears in court with his appointed defense attorney Joseph Mucia at his arraignment at Clinton County court, in Plattsburgh, New York August 20, 2015. (Christinne Muschi)

On March 29, Sweat weighed 163 lbs. By April 6, he had dropped 27 lbs. — more than 14% of his body weight. His vital signs indicated an elevated heart rate and dry lips — signs of dehydration. Starvation and dehydration can lead to organ failure and death, Karandy said.

While he denied suicidal ideation, Sweat told the prison's mental health office that he "feels like s--t" and "hope is smaller every day," according to the doctor.

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"When OMH asked why he is on a hunger strike, Mr. Sweat stated that he will continue to refuse to eat until he is transferred to another facility further from Clinton Correctional Facility and closer to home," Karandy said in his affadavit. 

Sweat escaped from Clinton in 2015 with his friend and fellow convicted killer Richard Matt, who was fatally shot in June 2015 after his escape.