The Water Cooler – Death Row Inmates & Medical Testing

November 14, 2012 12:00 pm · 57 comments

The “Water Cooler” is a feature on where we ask you a question or provide a topic, and you talk about it!

The “Water Cooler” will be up Monday-Friday at noon!

Should people on death row be used to test possible treatments for diseases such as cancer, HIV, etc., or should we just stick to animals?

Talk about it….


1 The Starcraft November 14, 2012 at 12:08 PM

For exhisting inmates, unless they agree to it, the no. But for death row inmates convicted after a bill is passed, then yes. By commuting the crime to be later convicted, they agree to testing.

2 what the heck November 14, 2012 at 12:11 PM

If they are willing why not? They used our military coming home from Vietnam to test woman hormones on men. Would love to know how it affected these guys today!

3 What Security November 14, 2012 at 12:18 PM

Hell NO

4 mamatosix85 November 14, 2012 at 12:18 PM

Only if they are willing.

5 Starship November 14, 2012 at 12:22 PM

Why the hell not. I think we are the only country that doesn’t do this.

6 Dorothy November 14, 2012 at 12:25 PM

Animals cannot give consent. Humans, even death row versions, can. But I would make the condition that even if their legal death would be commuted that they still remain in prison for the rest of their lives.

As it is now, more death row inmates die in prison long before they are ever at the point of being put to death by the state.

7 Randome Task November 14, 2012 at 12:26 PM

ya know what ..what are we talking about here ….criminals …yes our system does let through a few people that are not guilty …but we are getting better with DNA and such to keep it right ….and if these guys are on death row they must have done something real bad and have no need to be in society so use em like a tissue something that is used for lots of things and in the end is thrown away so another can take its place… for thought or maybe just let em all loose on the streets and we will see who ends up left ….bleeding hearts and the rehabilitation rabbits feel free to comment yet you stilol know you wont lift a hand to put em up at your house for rehab so prob good to not get invilved right …just keep voteing to keep us in fear of these animals in hopes that you can sleep knowing that a mass murderer or a gangleader who has killed and ordered multiple deaths can maybe come a mow your lawn after he is rehabilitated

8 anonokat November 14, 2012 at 12:26 PM

If they consent to it, then sure. Otherwise, no.

9 Em Dubya November 14, 2012 at 12:37 PM

The 8th Amendment probably forbids this unless such testing were voluntary and done to the same standards as other human medical trials.

“Volunteering” would also have to be under a high degree of scrutiny so as to not run afoul of the 8th Amendment and Due Process.

10 AnotherAnon November 14, 2012 at 12:37 PM

Humans can give consent, animals can’t

11 TinFoiler November 14, 2012 at 12:37 PM

For all the evil that they have done, they should serve humanity – Yes.
Even though HIV or Aids is a Huge scam.

Cancer, you need to Run from the Cure:

12 that one chick November 14, 2012 at 12:45 PM

@Randome Task: Are you serious? “and if these guys are on death row they must have done something real bad and have no need to be in society so use em like a tissue something that is used for lots of things and in the end is thrown away.”

Not everyone on Death Row is guilty. Please…do some research before making retarded comments. Sometimes it has nothing at all to do with DNA. Google the “West Memphis 3″ and see how DNA helped those kids out. These 3 boys were convicted of murder and sentenced to death because they were different and people didn’t understand them. There was absolutely ZERO DNA evidence that linked any of the 3 boys convicted in the crime. In fact, the DNA that was found was determined to NOT belong to them, however they were still charged and convicted.

In my opinion, if the inmate is willing, then that’s one thing, but to just start testing on these people just because they are on death row is not right.

13 Rob November 14, 2012 at 12:49 PM

Sure, as long as they are informed and can fully understand what is being done and can give their consent.

Perhaps there are some people that might view this as some sort of redemption for what they have done.

However, my worry would be that sooner or later big money would get its way into it and we might see people not being fully informed, or we may see people with mental issues given consent that they cannot really give since they aren’t competent…

14 Palermo November 14, 2012 at 12:56 PM

Test on them INSTEAD of on animals, not in addition to …

15 Triple Canopy November 14, 2012 at 12:58 PM

Mayor, the question is clearly written with a certain bias. WTF?

The informative and inquisitive quality of this website is spiraling down the toilet… just like the mass media.

16 Dutch November 14, 2012 at 1:00 PM

Em Dubya got it right. We have something called the Constitution that prohibits it. Just because these animals on death row have no scruples doesn’t mean we have to go down to their level. If we’re talking about using them for experiments why don’t we just execute them in a more timely manner? One appeal and then out. Literally.

17 Mister Wister November 14, 2012 at 1:03 PM

What a ridiculous question .

18 Parsnip November 14, 2012 at 1:08 PM

That would become definite ACLU material.

19 Shrimpy =";;;;~ November 14, 2012 at 1:19 PM

Medical testing? OK. I’d also like to see them used for testing the effectiveness of other things, like ammunition, bullet design,hand grenades, etc. There are also nuclear power plants that occasionally need jumpers (folks who volunteer to work in radioactive areas).

20 Elwood November 14, 2012 at 1:24 PM

“Should people on death row be used to test possible treatments for diseases such as cancer, HIV, etc., or should we just stick to animals?”

There’s a difference?

21 Concordejet November 14, 2012 at 1:26 PM

None to both

22 JT November 14, 2012 at 1:49 PM

Claycord, why are you always posting dumb things like this? So obviously designed to get all of the right wing lunatics to post their extreme views and cause arguments. It is no better than trolling to encourage the flamers and becoming really tiresome.

23 Starship November 14, 2012 at 1:59 PM

lol Shrimpy =”;;;;~

24 Janon November 14, 2012 at 2:05 PM

Moses was a murderer. God forgave him and even favored him. Someone commuting murder, law is they must be in prison. But be killed? The person killing him is committing murder. Two wrongs don’t make a right. We should give all people a chance to get right with God, get their demons out, and not just take their life for one huge devil influenced (probably drug influenced) decision. Prison fine, lethal injection not fine, torture by “scientific testing” beyond not fine.

25 Anon November 14, 2012 at 2:10 PM

They should be given a choice, maybe even offered small incentives like tv or a radio or something. But ya even if they are condemned they should still be given the choice. After all this isnt some 3rd world country.

26 Howard K Mullins III November 14, 2012 at 2:20 PM

If convicted criminals are on death row, why are they still alive?

If convicted and sentenced to death, then they should be dead. Not costing tax payers a fortune for lawyer fees and living expenses.

Bleeding hearts be damned. If people are convicted and sentence to death, then pull the trigger. Unless the victims friends/family want to stone the bastard to death themselves, then travel time should be allotted.

27 anon November 14, 2012 at 2:26 PM

#7 – It’s difficult to read what you write, but I think that I get the gist. Your argument is that those who are compassionate should still allow for testing because we wouldn’t want to host those people in our homes. It does not seem as if your argument justifies the conclusion. Perhaps you could explain it better.

#20 – Yes. There’s a difference. They are human beings. If it’s objectively right to call them less than human, then when is it objectively wrong to call anyone less than human? Since you show no compassion toward some of your fellow human beings, is it wrong for me to call you an animal or sub-human? If not, why not?

28 JD November 14, 2012 at 2:27 PM

Where did this question even come from?!!?

29 Horse'n Around November 14, 2012 at 2:58 PM

The people on Death Row are animals. So go ahead.

30 Hessianerd November 14, 2012 at 2:59 PM

As someone who works in the medical device / pharma industry as an engineer… this question is absurd on its face.

I don’t do any clinical trial design myself but I do know the basics. You simply wont get the kind of diversity you need in a prison population. Moreover because your subjects are so limited in their environment you wouldn’t be getting the kind of real world exposure to outside risk factors you need.

Clinical trials are supposed to be representative of the population they are intended to be used on.

Mayor, this was one of your worst questions yet.

31 max November 14, 2012 at 3:15 PM

mayor loves to stir the pot, and sometimes not in a positive way.

32 Starfish November 14, 2012 at 3:20 PM

I also work in the medical device/pharma field and you are absurd. If someone has aids, and an inmate has aids they would actually fit within the aids population; if they haveany type of disease or ailment, they would fit within that population. If something just needs to be tested, whynot? The fact that they are in prison has noting to do with belonging to a certain population or even just for testing–they would only be a sub-group within the entire cohort;

33 IftheyVolunteer November 14, 2012 at 3:43 PM

Sure. For humans, IF they volunteer. Many may have terminal illnesses and may want to try out the new drugs. I think this should go for the general population as well.

I think that there is enough data on certain things that animal testing can stop. Such as make up, head trauma, etc. Most tests can be made to be safe for human testing. The cruelty needs to stop. I buy most of my products cruelty free. It’s better for all.

34 NancyO November 14, 2012 at 3:46 PM

Even though I am for the death penalty, I am not for this. We as a society have already gone down this barbaric path….Abortion.

35 Starfire November 14, 2012 at 3:48 PM

Slice and Dice!

36 Conncord74 November 14, 2012 at 4:18 PM

What’s the difference btwn the convicted death row INMATES and animals?? NONE!!!!

This has nothing to be barbaric, 8th amendment of the Constitution, etc. The monkey in the White House does not pay attention to the Constitution – why should it matter w/death row inmates!

37 Shuley November 14, 2012 at 4:38 PM

There is a 0% chance of that ever happening, so why even ask?

38 Pyrrhus November 14, 2012 at 4:48 PM

There is a country that did testing on prisoners. It is called Germany during WWII. I am against testing unless it is from a consenting adult that is not under duress (not prisoners). If you think there is overcrowding in our prisons now (thank you private prison system) then just wait when test subjects are needed.

39 Howard K Mullins III November 14, 2012 at 5:19 PM

Why even have prisons any more?

The new Motto for CA should be;

Times are tough, things are hard.

Let prisoners just go free. The Police can protect us all.

Actually, it will be a delegation of UN soldiers from Central Africa and Russia, who don’t speak English, who will be in charge of policing America soon. Better get used to seeing those baby blue helmets around. And have your “papers” ready for inspection by foreign army’s who cannot read them.

40 Anon PH November 14, 2012 at 5:28 PM


You might ask what the difference is between lethal injection, gas chamber, firing squad, hanging….and medical experiments. I guess you could argue that the State is imposing something unwanted on that prisoner. I mean, few condemned actually “want” to be executed. But medical experiments…it is like said above, too much like Nazi Germany. Just sounds cruel, and I am sure the courts, our Constitution, and the public would not allow it.

41 Dennis November 14, 2012 at 5:58 PM

@Janon Since the dawn of civilization, every culture has decreed that individuals cannot kill others; that decision is a Right reserved for the entire group. If an individual does it, it is murder, if society does it, it is justice. Executing monstrosities is not murder, but the monstrosties killing people definitely is. Maybe you are confused because you think society cannot or should not impose its rules on individuals. If so, you are wrong.

42 Hessianerd November 14, 2012 at 6:02 PM

I didn’t suggest that prisoners couldn’t be PART of a clinical trial, but they couldn’t or rather shouldn’t be the entirety of one. It wouldn’t be representative of the population as a whole.

43 Mr. J November 14, 2012 at 7:09 PM

So, why aren’t these daily questions directly related to events/issues in Claycord? Last I checked, death row is in Marin. I’d much rather see questions asking about favorite places of business, most dangerous intersection, etc. in our community. I couldn’t give a rat’s behind about what what people think about testing drugs on prisoners – I thought we had evolved from the Nazi’s, but not all of us per some of the comments above – or the price of a cheeseburger in Paris. IMHO, time to get back to “breaking ews and information about Concord, Clayton, Pleasant Hill, WC and Martinez.”

44 Anon November 14, 2012 at 7:35 PM

Can’t take criticism, or don’t like adult answers to your childish questions?

45 Mr. John November 14, 2012 at 8:30 PM

If we only put people on death row that had no chance of rehabilitation in the eyes of a reasonable jury, I’d say that we should allow them the option of being used for medical testing – with the other option being swift termination of their sentence.

46 D.V. Guy November 14, 2012 at 8:38 PM

No they shouldn’t be used as lab rats, on the other hand lifers shouldn’t get much medical treatment either….no chemo, no pacemaker no transplant, no anything.
Death row or life without the possibility of parole inmates should go to a remote Prison with no visits,TV or any other comforts. They should be the living dead.

47 Atticus Thraxx November 14, 2012 at 9:08 PM

Disgusting to even suggest it. I’m all for science, but there comes a point where it costs you more than your gaining. Lock ‘em up. Or kill them, if that’s what it takes to keep them away from society. But this is inhuman and diminishes us all.

48 Sunstar November 14, 2012 at 9:38 PM

@D.V. Guy
If that is the case-why not allow them to benefit someone else in research; voluntary or not. This may “sound” inhumane, but the information and findings could save lives.

49 Sunstar November 14, 2012 at 9:49 PM

also, DV GUY, what you said sounds worse than any controlled research environment.

50 Connie Dobbs November 14, 2012 at 11:12 PM

You know who else did medical experiments on prisoners?

51 Pegasus November 15, 2012 at 12:25 AM

Connie –
Yes I know. And weren’t there some lampshades made too. Fun times.

52 JRConcord November 15, 2012 at 5:53 AM

only if we can use them for live fire target practice. They are condemed correct? This question is silly, and I am irreverant in most my thoughts.

53 Anon November 15, 2012 at 7:09 AM

They HAVE a choice, it is voluntary. Stupid question.

54 Connie Dobbs November 15, 2012 at 8:30 AM

#53, “Voluntary,” as in the state volunteers to expose itself to civil lawsuits from dozens of jailhouse attorneys.

55 Mimi (original) November 15, 2012 at 10:15 AM

I think using death row inmates as human testers of medications, cosmetics, etc. is a GREAT idea, since, apparently, California cannot inflict “unusual punishment” on anyone and causing someone’s death is “unusual punishment”. ENFORCE the Death Sentence – SAVE Californian’s Money!

56 nytemuvr November 15, 2012 at 11:08 AM

If you “purdy’em up” in jail with cosmetics testing, they won’t live long anyway.

57 SunStar November 15, 2012 at 11:14 AM

@Connie Dobbs,
You are talking about china or some other part of asia arn’t you? Or is there somewhere else you are referring to?

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