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Thursday, December 7, 2017

Attica: It’s Worse Than We Thought

Heather Ann Thompson
The New York Times
Originally posted November 19, 2017

Here is an excerpt:

As the fine print of that 1972 article read: “We are indebted to the inmates of the Attica Correctional Facility who participated in this study and to the warden and his administration for their help and cooperation.” This esteemed physician, a man working for two of New York’s most respected hospitals and receiving generous research funding from the N.I.H., was indeed conducting leprosy experiments at Attica.

But which of Attica’s nearly 2,400 prisoners, I wondered, was the subject of experiments relating to this crippling disease, without, as Dr. Brandriss admitted, adequate consent? Might it have been the 19-year-old who was at Attica because he had sliced the top of a neighbor’s convertible? Or a man imprisoned there for more serious offenses? Either way, no jury had sentenced them to being a guinea pig in any experiment relating to a disease as painful and disfiguring as leprosy.

And what about the hundreds of corrections officers and civilian employees working at Attica? Even if no one in this extremely crowded facility was actually exposed to this dreaded disease, one in which “prolonged close contact” with an infected patient is a most serious risk factor, were these state employees at all informed that medical experiments being conducted on the men in their charge?

This is not the first time prisons have allowed secret medical experiments on those locked inside. A 1998 book on Holmesburg Prison in Pennsylvania revealed that a doctor there, Albert Kligman, had been experimenting on prisoners for years. After the book appeared, nearly 300 former prisoners sued him, the University of Pennsylvania and the manufacturers of the substances to which they had been exposed, but none of the defendants was held accountable.

The article is here.
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