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Massachusetts Measure To Ban Electric Shocks At Rotenberg Center Dies In Committee

CANTON, MASSACHUSETTS--A state measure that would have banned the use of electric skin shocks to control the behavior of youths at a residential school stalled in committee last week.

According to WBUR radio, the bill was approved by the Massachusetts Senate, but did not pass a House-Senate conference committee. This means the bill likely will not pass in its current form.

Several legislators and disability advocates had pushed for the law following reports that many of the 250 young people with disabilities housed at the privately-run Judge Rotenberg Educational Center were being subjected to the painful shocks for such things as for such things as "nagging", "failure to maintain a neat appearance", "interrupting others", "slouch in chair", "stopping work for more than 10 seconds", and "whispering and/or moving conversation away from staff".

But Representative Jeffery Sanchez opposed the measure. His family credits the shock treatment for keeping alive his nephew, who has autism and an intellectual disability, and lives at JRC.

Regulators, including the Disabled Persons Protection Commission, are investigating at least 21 allegations of abuse at the institution.

Those include claims that students have been burned while receiving "aversive therapy" through "Graduated Electronic Decelerators". The devices have electrodes that are placed on specific spots on the students' skin. When a youth wearing a GED "misbehaves", JRC staff members push a button on a remote control device to deliver an electric jolt, which has been described as feeling much like a hard pinch of skin or a bee sting, for up to two seconds.

The GEDs have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration under certain circumstances. But education officials in New York, which sends about 150 students to JRC, are asking the FDA to again investigate the devices after one student said she received burns when a GED was used on her while she showered.

State checking burn claims at school (Boston Globe)

RealAudio clip: Aversive Therapy Ban Fails on Beacon Hill (WBUR)

Copyright 2006 Inonit Publishing
Article reproduced here under special arrangement with Inclusion Daily Express international disability rights news service. Please do not reprint, republish or forward without permission.


What a travesty that is happening in MA! Abu Gharib is alive and well at JRC. JRC is a place where people like Osama bin Laden learn torture techniques from. And as an American and as an autistic I am ashamed that this is happening in the USA. At JRC is a little corner of North Korea and Sudan. Matthew Israel is to autistic people what Osama bin Laden is to the non-jihadist world. May God have mercy on their souls!

Kathy Grant


How could Sanchez credit electric shocks to keeping his nephew alive? If anyone shocked my family member or friend, disabled or not, I would consider it abuse. There are other ways to control inappropriate behavior, especially the non-violent behaviors listed. Shocks should not be used on anyone except perhaps rarely, in extreme cases where one person is assaulting another person, or there is an uncontrollably violent situation. Why should shocks be relied on so much that there is such a problem of abuse and many people are getting the equivalent of a two-second bee sting just for acting like any other person - stopping work for ten seconds, slouching in a chair, whispering - has not everyone done one of those things at some point? It's appalling.


That the students are made to go about WEARING electrodes with the continual anticipation of punishment is really freakin' creepy. Being shocked for stopping work and speaking to anyone but staff -- also creepy. And obviously rooted in motives more toward subordination than "rehabilitation". Disgusting that we have, so close to "disability-progressive" Boston, a labor-torture factory straight out of a propaganda film. Ooh, maybe a nasty letter on parchment will stop this cruel machine!


Is Walmart involved? Are these child-labor practices?

I noticed the stuff about them "not working for more than 10 minutes?"

What are they working on? Probably making campaign signs for Sanchez...

It just goes to show that upholding decisions already made by the courts is a full time job - I remember when electro-shock fell under the category of "cruel and unusual" or "inhumane".


umm.. i have one thing to say slavery is over and people shouldn't have the right to do that if a child miss behaves it is up to the parent to handle that situation and from the reading the kids are not doing anything wrong it is normal behavoir for a child to act that way, it may not be proper, but still all you are doing is torturing the children and may even cause i a child to have a heartattack because you don't know if that child can take that kind of abuse because that is all that is abuse to a child, they are not animals they are human beings with rights an not only that they are expressing what is to be normal behavoir stoping to for ten seconds come on what kinda stuff is that. its a bunch of non sense i tell you the world is just crazy no one is really safe anymore.
and that is all i reall have to say about it. that it is a stupid, unratoinal idea i have ever heard of.

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