SACRAMENTO -- California Correctional Health Care service workers will soon be spending their time attending to inmates in the state's prisons.

When the 29,000 inmates who have been refusing meals since Monday miss their ninth consecutive meal, they'll officially be "on a hunger strike." That will happen with dinner this evening.  

The change in status means California Correctional Health Care nurses will begin to monitor the prisoners in their cells, and will do so for the next 14 days, Correctional Health Care Services spokeswoman Liz Gransee said. Prisoners are also provided with information about the dangers of participating in a hunger strike or fast, Gransee said.

"After two weeks, we refer all patients to their primary care physician for an appointment. And then after three weeks they are advised to give us an advanced directive," Gransee said.

Nurses will also be reviewing inmates' heath records to identify patients with conditions or medications that increase their risk of complications when fasting.

It's highly unlikely that the hunger strike would ultimately lead to force feeding, but there are some rare conditions that would warrant the procedure, Gransee said.

If somebody has not signed a Do Not Recessitate or completed an advanced directive and it is unknown how the individual wants to be taken care of if they lose consciousness, then force feeding might be used, Gransee said.

In that case, officials would do everything they can to keep the person alive.  Again, it's not likely, because protocol includes going through advance directives with hunger-strikers after 21 days of not eating.

Learn more:

Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity