The University of Washington has halted three research projects involving prisoners until federal authorities approve the work, the Seattle Times reports. The action, reported to the federal Office for Human Research Protections (OHRP), was in partial response to a range of concerns presented by the university’s research-safety committees. One study focuses on how children respond to parenting behaviors of women who became mothers in their teens. Two other projects on adults receiving methadone treatment have have not involved prisoners but may in the future.
Prisoners are considered particularly vulnerable in research projects. Federal guidelines say that great care be taken when they are enrolled in research so that they are not unduly influenced to participate. Correction of the problems cited by the OHRP is crucial to federal research funding received by the university, which gets the most federal money – $954 million in 2003-04 –of all public universities in the nation.