Just like the title says, I'm wondering how long somebody can be held in custody before the police are legally required to feed them. Is there any legal limit, or is it at the discretion of the officers?

As a bonus/optional question: are there any legal precedents of people starving to death (from not being fed, not by them deciding not to eat) while being held by the police?

Update Specifically in regards to the USA (although info about more places is always welcome).

  • Here is a case in which a man died in jail after losing a lot of weight. His family alleges that he was not fed regularly; the case is under litigation. I also found this case in which a teenager was left in a cell without food or water for five days, but survived. I didn't find any clearer cases. – Nate Eldredge Jul 31 '16 at 18:44
  • For what its worth, everytime I've been to jail, they feed within a couple hours. Food may be leftovers, but at least they try. – Dan Shaffer Aug 1 '16 at 15:32
  • 1
    @DanShaffer "Every" time, hmm? :P – Cyphase Jul 8 '17 at 21:44

There appears to be no specific number of hours. This article touches on the matter, presenting a slew of cases where e.g. the prisoner was on a hunger strike (self-imposed starvation is not cruel and unusual punishment). Gardener v. Beale upheld a 2-meal plan with 18 hours between dinner and brunch to be allowed. This was, however a temporary exception rather than a long term policy which was to provide 3 meals not spaced further apart than 12 hours. There does not seem to be any period deemed to be legally too long, however a prison system may have (probably does) have a policy, which cannot simply be ignored.

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