The Holmesburg Prison Was Closed in 1995. Dr. Albert Kligman Performed Medical Trials On The Inmates of Philadelphia’s Holmesburg Prison Between 1951 and 1974.

Holmesburg Prison was established in 1896 to relieve overcrowding at Philadelphia’s Moyamensing Prison and decommissioned in 1995, while sections of the facility are still utilized for prisoner overflow and job programs on an as-needed basis. In collaboration with the University of Pennsylvania and jail officials, a group of doctors developed Holmesburg as a laboratory testing site. Hundreds of inmates were employed to test items ranging from face creams and moisturizers to fragrances, detergents, and anti-rash creams.

From 1951 and 1974, Dr. Albert Kligman conducted medical trials on convicts at Philadelphia’s Holmesburg Prison, which were widely regarded as exploitative. Other testing, Hornblum would later discover, used mind-altering medications, radioactive isotopes, and dioxin.

The prison is also known for several major riots in the early 1970s, as well as a report released in 1968 detailing the findings of a two-year investigation by the Offices of the Philadelphia Police Commissioner and the District Attorney of Philadelphia, which documented hundreds of cases of inmate rape. Isotopes and dioxin are two examples.

The 1973 Congressional Hearing on Human Experimentation heightened public opposition to human experimentation. Companies and organizations that participated in human testing faced severe criticism. County jail boards in Pennsylvania understood human experimenting was no longer acceptable to the American people in the middle of several Congressional investigations, public relations nightmares, and opponents to penal experimentation. Human experimentation on inmates was quickly phased out in the United States.

Photos From Inside Holmesburg Prison

Several sequences in the films Condition Red (1995), Up Close & Personal (1996), Animal Factory (2000), and Law Abiding Citizen (2009) were shot in the Holmesburg jail.

The facility was decommissioned in 1995. Citizens, film crews, photographers, and historians are no longer permitted to enter the structure or grounds at Holmesburg. Between 2007 and 2015, Holmesburg was also reopened due to overcrowding. It was also asbestos-contaminated.

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