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From the Editor

On August 25, 2009, Senator Ted Kennedy died of brain cancer. With his passing prisoners lost one of the few advocates they had in the US Senate. Not surprisingly, mainstream media accounts largely ignored this aspect of Senator Kennedy’s long career. Probably the highlight of this was his role on holding senate hearings in the mid 1970s on the use of prisoners as medical test subjects. The threat of legislation resulted in Health and Human Services regulations, still in effect today, which prohibit the use of prisoners in federally funded medical research. Until this happened virtually all drugs and cosmetics were tested on human prisoners, along with chemical and biological warfare agents and other items.
Senator Kennedy was also instrumental in enacting the Americans With Disabilities Act and was always a reliable vote for legislation that not only benefitted all Americans, but also the most powerless and dispossessed of Americans as well.

He leaves a rich legacy behind him. Unlike many politicians, Senator Kennedy was consistent and his advocacy for the poor didn’t change over time or with the political winds. American politics is an even more impoverished place with his passing.

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