Biomedical and Behavioral Research on Juvenile Inmates: Uninformed Choices and Coerced Participation

By Wyman, Brian Paul | Journal of Law and Health, Spring 2000 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Biomedical and Behavioral Research on Juvenile Inmates: Uninformed Choices and Coerced Participation


Wyman, Brian Paul, Journal of Law and Health


I. INTRODUCTION

In 1997, Stanford University and the California Youth Authority [hereinafter "CYA"] conducted a biomedical research experiment on sixty-one male inmates from ages fourteen to eighteen. (1) All of the subjects were given a drug named Depakote, used primarily for treating seizures and mania. (2) The drug was tested to see if it would reduce the amount of aggressiveness in juvenile inmates. (3) The possible side effects to such a drug include "drowsiness, nausea, indigestion and vomiting ... hair loss, anxiety, depression, and a decrease in white blood cells." (4) These particular juveniles were selected as a target population because they had been convicted of violent crimes. (5) While Stanford attempted to obtain consent from parents of the juvenile inmates, not all parents responded. (6) Where parents did not respond or could not be found, the CYA consented for the juveniles. (7) This experiment presents various issues in biomedical and behavioral research on human subjects in vulnerable populations. The Stanford study led to such serious concerns, that the Governor of California asked the attorney general and inspector general to investigate the study's "legal implications." (8)

The most important issue presented by the Stanford study is whether children who are incarcerated can give voluntary, informed consent to such experiments. (9) Federal regulations govern biomedical and behavioral research on human subjects. (10) These regulations give separate additional protections to both children and prisoners. (11) However, there are no regulations specifically covering the area of biomedical and behavioral research on juvenile prisoners or inmates. This is an especially vulnerable class of individuals to target for conducting biomedical and behavioral research. Voluntary informed consent is an essential element to any type of research, and when dealing with juvenile inmates as subjects, that consent is more difficult to obtain. Yet biomedical and behavioral research is still conducted on this population, as evidenced by the 1997 Stanford University study. (12)

The question that will be addressed here is whether juvenile inmates can voluntarily give informed consent to participate in biomedical and behavioral research. Further, can juvenile inmates act voluntarily in the midst of coercion used by researchers to persuade the subjects to participate, and coercion that is inherent in the nature of being a juvenile inmate? Can consent be informed when a juvenile inmate's comprehension and understanding of what biomedical and behavioral research entails is limited by age and maturity level? Finally, even if juvenile inmates are deemed capable to give voluntary informed consent to biomedical and behavioral research, is simply participating in such research violative of their constitutional rights?

This note begins briefly by defining biomedical and behavioral research according to the federal regulations. Then, the development and history behind the federal regulations is highlighted to show the origin of the current form of the regulations. This development includes an examination of the current form of the regulations, which illustrates the general provisions and their application to biomedical and behavioral research on human subjects. This section on the general provisions covers what is termed an Institutional Review Board [hereinafter "IRB"], informed consent standards, and possible sanctions for noncompliance.

Following the section on general provisions is an analysis of two specific provisions that add protections for vulnerable classes of persons as research subjects. These two additional protections are for children and prisoners. Before there can be an investigation into research on juvenile inmates, there must first be a description of the additional protections provided for children and prisoners. The provision that relates to children is examined first, and covers definitions, minimal risk standards, and parental consent attached to informed consent standards.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

Biomedical and Behavioral Research on Juvenile Inmates: Uninformed Choices and Coerced Participation
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?