Sun | Nov 27, 2022

Philadelphia apologises for experiments on black inmates

Published:Friday | October 7, 2022 | 10:51 AM
Edward Anthony speaks of his time at Holmesburg Prison in Philadelphia and the tests in which he participated while an inmate, pictured here on October 24, 2007. The city of Philadelphia issued an apology Thursday, October 6, 2022, for the unethical medical experiments performed on mostly Black inmates at its Holmesburg Prison from the 1950s through the 1970s. (Michael Bryant//The Philadelphia Inquirer via AP, File)

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — The city of Philadelphia issued an apology Thursday for the unethical medical experiments performed on mostly black inmates at its Holmesburg Prison from the 1950s through the 1970s.

The move comes after community activists and families of some of those inmates raised the need for a formal apology.

It also follows a string of apologies from various United States cities over historically racist policies or wrongdoing in the wake of the nationwide racial reckoning after the killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer.

The city allowed University of Pennsylvania researcher Dr Albert Kligman to conduct the dermatological, biochemical and pharmaceutical experiments that intentionally exposed about 300 inmates to viruses, fungus, asbestos and chemical agents including dioxin — a component of Agent Orange.

The vast majority of Kligman's experiments were performed on black men, many of whom were awaiting trial and trying to save money for bail, and many of whom were illiterate, the city said.

Kligman, who would go on to pioneer the acne and wrinkle treatment Retin-A, died in 2010. Many of the former inmates would have lifelong scars and health issues from the experiments.

A group of the inmates filed a lawsuit against the university and Kligman in 2000 that was ultimately thrown out because of a statute of limitations.

Follow The Gleaner on Twitter and Instagram @JamaicaGleaner and on Facebook @GleanerJamaica. Send us a message on WhatsApp at 1-876-499-0169 or email us at onlinefeedback@gleanerjm.com or editors@gleanerjm.com.