Over the last few months, our fight against the Judge Rotenberg Center has heated up. The JRC, the only facility in the country to use contingent electric shock as a means of "treatment" of disabled children and adults, has been increasingly spotlighted in the news both locally and nationally. Public attention has grown due to Cheryl McCollins’s lawsuit on behalf of her son Andre, who in 2002 received over 31 shocks while restrained facedown for refusing to remove his jacket.
Yet for over twenty years, the Massachusetts legislature has failed to enact laws that would ban the use of electric shock as a “treatment” for developmental disabilities and behavioral challenges. The closest Massachusetts has come to restricting the use of electric shock was through Department of Developmental Services regulations implemented last year that prohibit shocks for any new students, but codify their use for students already receiving the shocks. It’s a step in the right direction, but we know it doesn’t go far enough.
This year, the Massachusetts legislature now has another opportunity to close the JRC for good. Senator Brian Joyce, whose district includes the JRC, has attached an amendment to the Massachusetts Senate budget that, if passed, would codify a complete ban on aversives - torture in the name of treatment. The State Senate passed Amendment #548, which bans all use of contingent electric shock and other aversives, but the Senate version of the budget has been passed to a Conference Committee that must reconcile differences between the Senate’s and House’s versions of a final budget.
A protest of the JRC last week in Massachusetts drew nearly one hundred supporters in the pouring rain, followed shortly thereafter by an ASAN joint letter to the Conference Committee carried thirty signatories from local and national disability, human rights, and youth empowerment organizations. It is critical to urge the Conference Committee members to pass Amendment #548. The JRC has already been lobbying throughout the Massachusetts Legislature in another attempt to stop any measure that would end their practice of abuse and torture, and it is imperative that the voices of those who support a future for people with disabilities free of these barbaric practices be heard.
Sign our PETITION to the members of the Conference Committee urging them to pass Amendment #548. Massachusetts has an opportunity to remove the shadow of the JRC from its reputation and to take an important step forward in supporting equal rights for all people, but your voices must be heard!
Stop the torture of Disabled People!
PO Box 66122 | Washington, DC 20035 US