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Acres of Skin

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Acres of Skin

Human Experiments at Holmesburg Prison



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Acres of Skin by Allen M Hornblum
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At a time of increased interest and renewed shock over the Tuskegee syphilis experiments, Acres of Skin sheds light on yet another dark episode of American medical history. In this disturbing expose, Allen M. Hornblum tells the story of Philadelphia's Holmesburg Prison. For more than two decades, from the mid-1950s through the mid-1970s, inmates were used, in exchange for a few dollars, as guinea pigs in a host of medical experiments. Based on in-depth interviews with dozens of prisoners as well as the doctors and prison officials who, respectively, performed and enforced these experimental tests, Hornblum paints a disturbing portrait of abuse, moral indifference, and greed. Central to this account are the millions of dollars many of America's leading drug and consumer goods companies made available for the all too eager doctors seeking fame and fortune through their medical experiments. Many of these doctors established their illustrious careers on the backs of the inmates who served as the ideal test subjects--isolated, cheap, and locked behind bars. Acres of Skin argues that at Holmesburg the American medical establishment betrayed the ideals of the Hippocratic Oath and the Nuremberg Code. An array of doctors, in conjunction with the University of Pennsylvania and prison officials, established Holmesburg as a laboratory testing ground. Hundreds of prisoners were used to test products from facial creams and skin mosturizers to perfumes, detergents, and anti-rash treatments. Other experiments used the inmates as test subjects for far more hazardous, even potentially lethal, substances such as radioactive isotopes, LSD, and chemical warfare agents. Acres of Skin is an account of serious medical abuse and exploitation that is rigorously researched and shocking in its depiction of men treated as laboratory animals. This book should be read by anyone concerned with medical ethics, human rights, research ethics, and prison treatment. In often graphic detail, Acres of Skin exposes what really happened behind the locked doors of this American prison. Allen M.Hornblum's extensive criminal justice background includes academic and professional experience. Over the last 25 years he has served on numerous city and state crime fighting organizations, including: The Board of Trustees of the Philadelphia Prison System, The Pennsylvania Crime Commission, and The Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency. Hornblum has also served as the Chief of Staff of Philadelphia's Sheriff's Office. He currently teaches courses at Temple University in urban studies, criminal justice, and political science.

Author Biography

Allen M. Hornblum teaches Urban Studies at Temple University. He has served on the Board of Trustees of the Philadelphia Prison System and as the Chief of Staff of Philadelphia's Sheriff's Office.
Release date NZ
April 14th, 1998
Country of Publication
United Kingdom
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