September 23, 1974

Prisoner Research

Author Affiliations

Rochester, NY

JAMA. 1974;229(13):1720. doi:10.1001/jama.1974.03230510012003

To the Editor.—  The recent "Commentary" by Dr. George Bach-y-Rita deserves a response. Dr. Bach-y-Rita has admirable concerns about the deficiencies in our penal system, and one must admire his desire to improve the lot of those incarcerated by society. I believe, however, that he has unwisely combined his desire to achieve change in prisons with an attack on all prison research, even that which is ethical and defensible.I do not accept his judgment that only those who are in "contact with the free world" can make valid decisions about the degree of risk in participation in an experiment. If Dr. Bach-y-Rita were to visit prison research facilities such as the one in Jackson, Mich, I think he would be reassured about the ability of conscientious investigators, with the aid of advisory "watchdog" bodies, to present information about participation in research that is quite adequate. My own experience with