Should Death Row Inmates Be Used for Experiments?

Aprilgold

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I EDITED TWICE!
Alright, I read something that I thought would be better wording, just make it voulanterable. Don't make it deathly, unless the person wants to test to cure something that could, potentially kill them. I would LOVE to see an aperture science facility in the future, and get to work with the portal gun. Again, if you could volunteer, that, I see is a fine thing, but not being forced. Again, person decides to go for it, chooses from a variety of deathly to survivable to non-lethal in any way, and then decides to try and help benefit that field, if nothing is chosen, their just fine and dandy and nothing else happens.
 

TacticalAssassin1

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alandavidson said:
No. It is barbaric and inhumane. All life should be valued and only taken when absolutely necessary. The due course of the law is being acted upon these people, there is no reason to use them as guinea pigs.
What if these 'barbaric and inhumane' practices save the lives of hundreds of people. Lives that you no doubt value, and want to save. What if there is a reason to 'use them as guinea pigs'?
 

Terminal Blue

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Gottesstrafe said:
Thanks for quoting me out of context. I was saying that experimentation wouldn't/shouldn't necessarily be limited to purely medical testing. Nowhere have I explicitly said that these test would be used to determine why that particular crop of subjects were driven/predisposed to criminal activity, just that there were other types of experiments that they could consent to outside the realm of testing the latest vaccine or experimental gene therapy.
You've missed my point, that they're not a good sample for anything which requires more than a warm body to pump drugs into.

Let me take a mild example. The Kinsey reports. Back when Kinsey was writing gay sex was considered a symptom of psychiatric disorder. Any trace of a gay community was either incredibly underground or limited to homophile groups who could get away with it because they tended to be socially elite people. The result, Kinsey took most of his sample of 'gay' men from mental asylums.

Result, when it comes to any discussion of sexual orientation beyond the purely theory the kinsey report is kind of toilet paper nowadays because anyone can see that there were many other factors (race, social class, self-selection) which determined whether someone would be in a mental asylum as a homosexual. I'm not saying he was a bad researcher, in all likelihood he didn't have a whole lot of choice, but it has utterly compromised the validity of a big chunk of his research.

Sampling isn't so hard, you draw the most representative sample you can based on the prime variable you wish to study. That should be your only consideration. Unless the prime variable is 'whether or not a person has ended up on death row' a sample drawn from people in that position is methodologically unsound.

Gottesstrafe said:
On the side, I was under the impression that 19th century criminology put more stock in the size of hands, height of foreheads, and protrusiveness of brow ridges than hair (as if all criminals were merely the descendants of some Cro-Magnon ancestor).
I was actually referring to scientific racism.

You're on the right track, but the 19th century ideas of what constituted a 'primitive' human being were a little different, to say the least.

Although, to be fair, it's not quite as revolting as screening women's vaginas for similarities to an extremely crude picture of what a black woman's vagina was 'supposed' to look like in order to tell if they were potential prostitutes or not. That happened to.

Gottesstrafe said:
... Which is clearly infringing on the CIA and U.S. Army's turf when it comes to unethical medical testing on prisoners, right?
I'm not a great fan of either of those organizations, but the one thing you can say about them is that they're only as bad as the political administration allows them to be.

Something about selling human lives for cold, hard cash also leaves a bad taste in mouth, above anything else.

TacticalAssassin1 said:
That man did not care whether consent was given.
And you evidently don't care about the conditions under which consent is given.

Don't hide behind consent like it's a defence, certainly not unless you're willing to countenance the other kinds of situations that same logic might apply to.

TacticalAssassin1 said:
He did not care if you were innocent or not.
Innocent of what?

Innocent of a crime which warrants the death penalty under the national law of the occupied nation they were currently in? Because if so, he and his colleagues were on pretty good information that they weren't.

TacticalAssassin1 said:
He did nothing to dull the pain.
Yes, and he justified it on the very good scientific grounds that it would effect the result of the experiment.

Do you give laboratory mice anaesthetic? No, you don't introduce more variables than you need. Otherwise, you may as well toss out the idea of getting useful results.

Why experiment on human subjects at all if you could get better results on animals and tissue samples?

TacticalAssassin1 said:
He did not care at all for his subjects whatsoever.
And the pharmaceutical companies who would be performing these experiments on convicts would?

If you care about them, why experiment on them at all? Face it, you want to experiment on convicts because you don't care about them and they're disposable.

TacticalAssassin1 said:
It's insulting to tell somebody that they have the morals of that man.
As it was meant to be.

TacticalAssassin1 said:
For Science!
..and profit.
 

Ninjat_126

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If they consent, then yes. But they probably won't. And I'm somewhat against the death penalty.
 

pearcinator

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Read the book 'Area 7' by Matthew Reilly!

Its about a top secret base where they get prisoners from death row (if they volunteer) and perform highly dangerous experiments on them instead of just killing them.

Anyway, as its an action/thriller novel things get out of hand, read the book to find out cos its awesome!
 

Dominic Burchnall

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EVERYBODY STOP!!

Please, Escapist community, I thought we were better than this, lets not be so reactionary upon seeing the words "Death Row" and "Experiments" in the same sentance. Zerobudgetgamer already made it clear that it would have to be voluntary and still be controlled under humane conditions. And he makes a clear point that, if we are going to kill these people anyway, why not collect some useful data from them first? Is this, really, any different to dissecting a corpse once the owners died? In both cases, the participating parties have have a choice in whether or not they will go through with it, it's done in the name of medical science, and both have the potential to advance the human cause.

For those of you pulling the "Nazi experiments" card, I don't know if you've noticed recently, but we are not currently living in a facist autocracy. There are still laws and regulations governing the treatment and welfare of prisoners, and those would have to be extended to cover the medical experiments. We are not talking about political prisoners here, or religious undesirables, or "people who are less than perfect". People on death row are, by definition, some of the worst mankind has to offer, whose crimes are inexcusable. Besides, experimenting on Death Row victims hardly started with the Nazis. Royal families who were unsure about the veracity of the smallpox vaccine would test it on convicted felons first, and there was even a case of a murderer who participated in a test to see if a beozar (a stone from a stomach of a goat or sheep thought to be proof against most poisons) would work. hese men all volunteered for the treatment, and I don't see why we can't have a similar programme today.
 

Togs

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Korolev said:
It wouldn't be of much use. No, really, it wouldn't. Medical and Pharmaceutical testing requires stringent controls and a large supply of model organisms with known genetic backgrounds and living conditions. Prison inmates have an uncontrolled genetic background, would be difficult to work with (being large and presumably violent) and most of their life would have been spent outside the control of the lab - so you wouldn't know what their background was, which might screw up the tests. Also, modern drug testing protocols require hundreds, if not thousands of volunteers and patients. There's just not that many death-row inmates available. Plus, we like to test the drug on multiple organisms with similar genetic backgrounds when we can - we can accomplish this with mice by back-crossing and other such mating strategies to ensure that we get a nice even genetic background to test on. We can't do that with prisoners, and even if we could, it would take years for human test subjects to grow.

Oh, and it's immoral! Almost forgot to mention that part.

Working with humans just isn't feasible. There have been three known instances in which human test subjects were widely used for biological/medical research: The concentration camps in Nazi Germany and Japanese-occupied China, and during syphilis research in the US (which was illegally performed on african-americans). In all cases, nothing even remotely useful found. The Nazis experimented horribly on Jews to find cures for Malaria and other tropical diseases - and it didn't work. The Japanese experimented on Chinese civilians to test the effectiveness of biological weapons - nothing remotely medically useful came out of those experiments (although the US was very eager to snap up the weapons researchers for military purposes after the war). The US experiments to find a cure for syphilis didn't work either (the US didn't infect the men with syphilis, but they did withhold a known cure to test out some experimental cures).

Human based testing just ISN'T feasible. No reputable scientist, in this day and age, would do toxicity tests or early stage drug test on humans. We do stage I and stage II CLINICAL trials on humans, when the drugs have more or less been proven to be safe for mammals (a few dangerous ones get by, but by and large Stage I, II and III clinical trials are safe). And as for the Clinical trials - we test that on patients WITH the disease and with similar lifestyles in order to limit the variables in the test subjects. We can't do that with Prisoners, the vast majority of whom wouldn't have the required disease.

It's just not feasible or practical. It would give us bad data.
A better written and more eloquent version of what I was trying to say- using prisoners in drug trials would just not be feasible on any significant scale.
 

Korolev

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Listen, regardless of morality consent or whatnot, it just WOULDN'T be practical. We are at a stage in medical science in which we are designing tailor made drugs that could work better depending on your genes. Prisoner testing isn't useful for advanced medical testing in the 21st century.

What would you use them for? And, practically, what benefits would you get with prisoners and not, say, ordinary folks? By all means, if a prisoner has a debilitating medical condition and volunteers for experimental treatment, I feel that should be provided (but medical researchers don't like to work with prisoners. We get the doctors to put up with treating them, but personally, we are a people of letters, not a people of "stabby-stabby shiv-time", and prisoners scare the HELL out of us).

If you want to test a drug designed to treat a particular neurological disease or a type of cancer, first you have to find enough people with the disease. You have to have their patient history (preferably a long patient history) and in the case of testing anti-cancer drugs, you have to monitor the patient's health for a long period of time (many years in fact). You have to get them to fill out forms, co-operate with the researchers, talk to them about potential side-effects, and let me tell you it's difficult ENOUGH talking to regular people about experimental treatments and side-effects but at least with them I don't have to worry about them trying to stab me (which, I imagine, a death row inmate would try to do).

So it's just not practical. If you are testing a drug designed to modify behaviour or stimulate the mind (such as modafinal), what benefit would you get out of using death-row prisoners, most of whom have serious literacy problems and probably couldn't even read the forms they are asked to sign (sorry, but it's true. Death row inmates are not exactly the brightest fellows)? You'd have to get them to report the effects back to you, you'd have to travel to prison to interview them, you'd have to make sure they were restrained to prevent them from shivving you to death and you'd need the guards to make sure they took their meds on time and that they didn't try to grind them up to sell to other inmates in powder form.

So to sum up:

1) There's not enough death-row inmates (or even regular prisoners) with the required disease (unless it's really common and in that case, why not use the public?)
2) They are scary and presumably violent and researchers are the types of people who like to have really in-depth discussions on protein channels and epigenetics. We find prisons distressing. Even watching those National Geographic documentaries on prisons scares me.
3) We can't control their genetic backgrounds, life-styles, and it would be a pain to have to travel to the prison all the time and have to go through security checks, guards, angry prisoners presumably trying to throw faeces at us (I assume that's what they'd try to do).
4) In all circumstances it's safer, cheaper, easier and just more.... controllable when you work with the public.

So all moral questions aside, we just don't want to work with prisoners. Full stop. It was hard enough working with mice and rats. Other colleagues have complained about working with normal people. Death row inmates are not our test subjects of choice.

The only thing prisoners would be suited for is military research in weapons testing... which would be horrifically immoral and... well... messy.
 

mrmooninnod

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can we stop bashing the guy for it's a very interesting subject to talk about and if they consent then death row inmates should be used to better the rest of mankind
 

Weslebear

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I've always wondered why the fuck they don't just kill them now. If they are sentenced to death, what is the point of waiting. Either use them for experiments or any manual labour or kill them and empty up some prison space. Simple.

If they commited a crime great enough to warrant a death sentence they no longer have any human rights in my eyes and are nothing more than a waste of the elements that make them up, they would be better used as compost for the local plant life.
 

orangeban

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Weslebear said:
I've always wondered why the fuck they don't just kill them now. If they are sentenced to death, what is the point of waiting. Either use them for experiments or any manual labour or kill them and empty up some prison space. Simple.

If they commited a crime great enough to warrant a death sentence they no longer have any human rights in my eyes and are nothing more than a waste of the elements that make them up, they would be better used as compost for the local plant life.
I think the main reason we wait is so they can get the appeal process out of the way, if we do it faster we could end up executing innocents.
 

winter2

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I'm pretty sure this is what Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan did pre and during WWII.

I think that should really say all there is to say about that.
 

viking97

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Ramzal said:
viking97 said:
i fail to see why medical experiment = fatal and extremely painful scientific research
Actually, it is. For any results to be reached with lab mice, the ones that are infected and show no satifying results are usually killed by breaking their necks. Do you want to star breaking mens necks for the sake of research yourself? I'm betting half of the people on here supporting the idea have never had to even think about themselves killing someone for results.
so it's fatal because we kill them afterward? alright then
 

SpaceBat

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Absolutely not, unless they themselves agree to it. Though capital punishment shouldn't exist anyway.
 

Ramzal

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viking97 said:
Ramzal said:
viking97 said:
i fail to see why medical experiment = fatal and extremely painful scientific research
Actually, it is. For any results to be reached with lab mice, the ones that are infected and show no satifying results are usually killed by breaking their necks. Do you want to star breaking mens necks for the sake of research yourself? I'm betting half of the people on here supporting the idea have never had to even think about themselves killing someone for results.
so it's fatal because we kill them afterward? alright then
No, it's not. It's fatal because most experiments on a biological level will cause the subject to die. Painfully if left be. Rather than leaving them alive, if there is no results and a new subject is needed, the mouse is killed on the spot. It's not much of a big deal because it's a mouse to people. However, if it's a human than it's different. This is why it's a moral problem.

Allow me to explain. If you want to find an effective cure for MRSA, you have to infect the subject with it, administer product on it and observe their reactions to the product. This usually ranges from dead to dying. MRSA is one of the worse ways to die with infectious boils growing on your internal organs. Extremely painful.

You'd be directly controlling the value of someone's life at anytime you wish. And again, this falls under cruel and unusual punishment. And I will bring up this point again, unless you are willing to experiment on someone yourself and take their life yourself you don't have a leg to stand on. And even if one was willing to do this, honestly they'd need to be put down like a dog.
 

HasimirFenring

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It's inhuman or perhaps all too human and that's the problem. We simply shouldn't do it. It wouldn't be justice to experiment on the condemned. We have a moral duty. As said before, look at Shiro Ishii
 

viking97

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Ramzal said:
viking97 said:
Ramzal said:
viking97 said:
i fail to see why medical experiment = fatal and extremely painful scientific research
Actually, it is. For any results to be reached with lab mice, the ones that are infected and show no satifying results are usually killed by breaking their necks. Do you want to star breaking mens necks for the sake of research yourself? I'm betting half of the people on here supporting the idea have never had to even think about themselves killing someone for results.
so it's fatal because we kill them afterward? alright then
No, it's not. It's fatal because most experiments on a biological level will cause the subject to die. Painfully if left be. Rather than leaving them alive, if there is no results and a new subject is needed, the mouse is killed on the spot. It's not much of a big deal because it's a mouse to people. However, if it's a human than it's different. This is why it's a moral problem.

Allow me to explain. If you want to find an effective cure for MRSA, you have to infect the subject with it, administer product on it and observe their reactions to the product. This usually ranges from dead to dying. MRSA is one of the worse ways to die with infectious boils growing on your internal organs. Extremely painful.

You'd be directly controlling the value of someone's life at anytime you wish. And again, this falls under cruel and unusual punishment. And I will bring up this point again, unless you are willing to experiment on someone yourself and take their life yourself you don't have a leg to stand on. And even if one was willing to do this, honestly they'd need to be put down like a dog.
alright fair enough, but is that all that can be tested? perhaps some allergy testing and stuff. Obviously it should be entirely voluntary, and nothing overly painful like what you mentioned, but there are plenty of non-horrific tests that need to be done. generally by paid volunteers, but this would save a lot of money.
actually, that ^ is kind of a flawed argument considering america is the only (i think) developed country that makes a profit off sick people. so i guess that ends any practical benefit right there because anything that would really, REALLY need to be tested on them would be overly cruel, and anything else would just be helping businessmen make money.
i hear-by correct my opinion.