Measure To Ban Electric Shocks At Rotenberg Center Dies In
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
July 5, 2006
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)