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Books, Journals, New Media
November 4, 1998

PrisonAcres of Skin: Human Experiments at Holmesburg Prison

Author Affiliations

Harriet S.MeyerMD, Contributing EditorJonathan D.EldredgeMLS, PhD, Journal Review EditorRobertHoganMD, adviser for new media


Not Available

JAMA. 1998;280(17):1542-1543. doi:10.1001/jama.280.17.1542-JBK1104-4-1

"Were you there when they crucified my Lord? Were you there when they nailed him to the cross?" This choral call to conscience is an apt paraphrase of Acres of Skin. Where were all of us, when, with one blind eye to Nuremberg, the other fixated on the glories of science, shameful experiments were done in US prisons in the name of bad science?

This admirably comprehensive story of the use of prisoners for medical research is embarrassingly painful to read. Allen M. Hornblum worked within the Pennsylvania prison system and saw firsthand what went on there. Acres of Skin is the result of exhaustive scholarship into what he witnessed at Philadelphia's Holmesburg Prison and the history of the use of prisoners for medical research.

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