During the 1950s, the Central Intelligence Agency did drug experiments on prisoners using LSD. One of the goals was to see if the hallucinogenic drugs could be used against the enemy as a truth serum.
The son of a former Georgia lawmaker said his father unwittingly became part of this experiment which ended in disaster for his family.
Dr. Henry Wall Sr. was a celebrated medical professional, state senator and pillar of his southwest Georgia community.
His son, Henry Wall Jr., told Channel 2 Action News reporter Tom Regan, "He was the one who put into effect the regional mental health facilities in this state."
"So here is a person, that you've grown up with was a loving supportive father, and then turned into a monster?" Regan asked Wall Jr.
"That's right," Wall Jr. said.
It began when Wall's father became addicted to Demerol, a dentist prescribed narcotic.
Wall Sr. was arrested on drug charges and sentenced to eight months in a federal prison in Lexington, Kent. In the 1950s, it was called “The Narcotic Farm,” a famous and infamous facility created to study and treat drug addicted inmates.
"He said, ‘You won't believe the guys walking around with this stare on their face with this experiment,’" Wall Jr. said.
Inmates were offered the chance to volunteer in CIA funded tests of the effects of LSD.
Wall Jr. said his father declined to become a test subject, but soon his personality and appearance radically changed.
He lost a tremendous amount of weight, Wall Jr. said. Eventually he would only eat canned food that he'd purchased in the commissary for fear that his prepared meals had been tampered with.
"Apparently the food was being contaminated by the experiment. And he realized that he was being a victim of it," Wall Jr. said. "I think it had a serious impact on his mental health."
After his release from prison, Wall Sr. had suicidal tendencies and violent outbreaks of hallucinations and paranoid delusions.
“He was a state mental health hero but his own mental health was destroyed by the federal government," Wall told Regan
Congressional hearings blew the lid off the CIA's program, called the MK-Ultra experiments.
Jennifer Duplaga is a historian with the Kentucky Historical Society. She said the scandal of using inmates as guinea pigs overshadowed valuable research into drug addiction at the prison.
"We now have laws to prevent these things from happening. But at the time these things were going on, it didn't exist," Duplaga said.
Wall Jr. believes his father, who died from a stroke, was subjected to drug experiments against his will. His efforts to get answers have been met with silence.
The surgeon recently wrote a book, "From Healing to Hell,” detailing his family's horrible ordeal.
"My dad was a lab rat of Washington at that point in time,” Wall Jr. said.
Today, the federal medical center in Lexington remains open. The facility provides specialized medical and mental health services to inmates.
It currently houses around 1,500 men and 300 women.