In the United States, some neurosurgeons and psychiatrists are questioning the medical and ethical validity of brain surgery experiments to control violence in prisoners.
GV's and SV's EXT and INT Vacaville Medical Facility, California. (4 shots)
CU's newspaper cuttings on controversy over brain surgery experiments on criminals. (3 shots)
CU Dr. Breggin speaking.
CU Dr. Sweet speaking.
SV's INT. California jail (4 shots)
CU Dr. Bach y Rita speaking over SV's and CU's brain operation.
CU & SV Operation continues. (3 shots)
SV Procunier speaking.
DOCTOR BREGGIN: They have a grant from the Law Enforcement Assistance Administration which is the same group that gives money for new tanks and g???s for ghetto control -- new kinds of riot control. They have over a hundred-and-eight-thousand dollars the purpose of which - among other things - is to develop routine screening methods for possible brain damage associated with violence. And these men have already written down their political ideas in regard to law and order. This is law and order surgery.
DOCTOR SWEET: The work in the prisons is being funded both by the National Institute of Mental Health and by the Law Enforcement Assistance Administration.
DOCTOR GEORGE BACH Y RITA: I felt that a prisoner really could not be a free volunteer for a research project. There's not a direct pressure within the prison to volunteer, but there is a subtle pressure. There's subtle pressure to acquiesce to the wishes of his captor, so to speak. If he's a good boy, if he's co-operative and nice in the prison, he's more likely to get good reviews before he goes to the parole board.
He's forced to prostitute his body to earn any sum of money. And this money can be very important to a prisoner. It might be the only way of getting a ticket for his family to come and visit him since the prisons are usually very isolated from the cities. And if he comes from a poor family this difference of fifty dollars a month might mean the difference between getting or not getting a visit from his family.
MR. RAYMOND PROCUNIER: You could give the same argument that there's no free will or nobody gives their consent if there's any money involved in it, they're being bribed into working for people and, are, the same as in the free world. I don't see any difference between prisoners and the free world when it comes to this kind of stuff and I think it's a big to do about nothing in people who are upset about this in relationship to what's going on at Vacaville.
Initials VS/14.55 15.24
Shots 3 to 8 are partly overlaid by scenes of operation being carried out.
Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
Background: In the United States, some neurosurgeons and psychiatrists are questioning the medical and ethical validity of brain surgery experiments to control violence in prisoners.
At issue is the practice of destroying with elector-surgery parts of the brain which condition violent behaviour.
Debate has centred around treatment of a structure deep in the limbic area of the brain called the amygdala. Its thought that a faulty amygdala triggers aggression, and this could be suppressed if the amygdala is destroyed.
One of the centres at which the controversial experiments are being carried out is the California Medical Facility at Vacaville, which was set up with funds provided by the Justice Department to act as a medical screening centre for prisons in California - such as San Quentin.
A California prison psychiatrist, Doctor George Bach y Rita, has resigned from a research programme at the Vacaville centre in protest at the methods used to induce prisoners to undergo brain surgery experiments. He claims there is a subtle pressure on the prisoner to submit to the experiments in order to get a good parole report.
Other doctors have criticised the experiments because of the secrecy under which they are conducted and the fact that research grants are given partly by the Law Enforcement Assistance Administration. The doctors say this money-source lends a political motive to the experiments.
Several specialists aired their views: