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November 27, 1996

Nuremberg and the Issue of Wartime Experiments on US Prisoners: The Green Committee

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Science and Technology Studies, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY.

JAMA. 1996;276(20):1672-1675. doi:10.1001/jama.1996.03540200058032

Defense attorneys at the Nuremberg Medical Trial argued that no ethical difference existed between experiments in Nazi concentration camps and research in US prisons. Investigations that had taken place in an Illinois prison became an early focus of this argument. Andrew C. Ivy, MD, whom the American Medical Association had selected as a consultant to the Nuremberg prosecutors, responded to courtroom criticism of research in his home state by encouraging the Illinois governor to establish a committee to evaluate prison research. The governor named a committee and accepted Ivy's offer to chair the panel. Late in the trial, Ivy testified—drawing on the authority of this committee—that research on US prisoners was ethically ideal. However, the governor's committee had never met. After the trial's conclusion, the committee report was published in JAMA, where it became a source of support for experimentation on prisoners.