Involuntarily Committed Patients As Prisoners

Matt Lamkin*

Carl Elliott**

Human subjects research has a shameful history of abuses committed against institutionalized people. Decades after the Nuremburg court condemned Nazi doctors to death for experimenting on prisoners in concentration camps, researchers in the United States continued to expose prisoners to measles, malaria, radioactive isotopes, and other painful and damaging interventions. On his first visit to the Holmesburg prison in Pennsylvania, Dr. Albert Kligman reported seeing in this captive population “acres of skin” on which he could conduct dermatological experiments, including toxins that left prisoners scarred and blistered.

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* Associate Professor, University of Tulsa College of Law.
** Professor, Center for Bioethics, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis.

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