Judge Rotenberg Center Living Archive
Note: This page and all links on it discuss electric shock, other abusive and coercive treatments, institutions, and other forms of abuse against disabled people/people with disabilities in great detail.
This page contains links to a variety of materials relating to the Judge Rotenberg Center (JRC), formerly known as the Behavior Research Institute (BRI). Please scroll or skip to the bottom of the page’s main contents for a link to separate pages with different documents. I am currently in the process of uploading and organizing an enormous amount of documents in my possession, so please be patient as this process may take an incredibly long time to complete. This is also a living archive, which means new items will always be added. Feel free to email me at email@example.com if you have a document or know of an article somewhere that should be added to this page.
(living archive last updated 19 March 2018)
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The Judge Rotenberg Center (JRC) is an institution for people with disabilities, including people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (which includes autistics) and people with psychiatric disabilities/mental illness. JRC first opened as the Behavior Research Institute in 1971. Today, JRC is most notorious for their use of aversive contingent electric shock and the device they invented and manufacture in-house, the graduated electronic decelerator (GED), which was intentionally designed to be more powerful and painful than a police taser. JRC’s philosophy of treatment is based on punishment as a means of behavioral modification. In addition to contingent electric shock, BRI/JRC has also used extremely prolonged restraint, food deprivation, deep muscle pinching, forced inhalation of ammonia, and sensory assault techniques for behavioral modification.
Over the past four decades, six people have died while at BRI/JRC. Their names are Silverio Gonzalez (d. 1998), Abigail Gibson (d. 1997), Linda Cornelison (d. 1990), Vincent Milletich (d. 1985), Danny Aswad (d. 1981), and Robert Cooper (d. 1980), Numerous state agencies and now federal agencies in the United States have opened investigations into JRC’s practices. The JRC has also been condemned by the current and immediately previous United Nations Special Rapporteurs on Torture, Manfred Nowak and Juan E. Méndez.
Update (July 2016)
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced a proposed ban of the electric shock devices at the JRC, and invited public comment. Originally, the deadline was May 25. It has been extended for another two months until July 25, likely due to pressure from the JRC and its supporters to prevent a ban on the shocks. JRC subjects its residents to numerous forms of abuse in addition to or instead of shocks, which has resulted in dozens of complaints (for physical abuse, sexual abuse, and other forms of abuse and neglect) filed each year with the Massachusetts Disabled Persons Protection Commission, the designated agency for investigating abuse and neglect claims.
As of June 2015, the population at JRC is as follows (I am unable to disclose my source for this information):
- New York: 186
- Massachusetts: 54
- Virginia: 5
- Connecticut: 2
- Delaware: 2
- Florida: 1
- Maine: 1
- New Hampshire: 1
- New Jersey: 1
- Rhode Island: 1
The oldest resident as of July 2015 was 62 years old (Jay Rosenthal, 2015 Report).
About the Repository
I have collected and shared the documents available here as a service to the public. While the JRC may be unique in its use of aversive electric shock, it is not the only institution in existence either in the United States or in other countries that engages in abusive, dehumanizing, and violent practices — and electric shock is not the only form of abusive treatment used at the JRC either.
My hope is that through learning more about the JRC, others will also be galvanized to join the larger struggle against all forms of institutions, segregation, and legally-sanctioned abuse of disabled people in the name of treatment, protection, mercy, or convenience. These documents may be invaluable for researchers, journalists, advocates, activists, and various others. (Many documents are hosted here as mirrors to their original sources, even if they continue to be available online elsewhere. I have chosen to do that to ensure that multiple copies are available and the information is preserved, in case other websites are taken down, hacked, or create broken links.)
There is an important difference between contingent electric shock, the method that JRC uses, and another form of treatment known as electrostatic or electroconvulsive therapy (ECT). ECT is intended to be administered while the person receiving it is sedated, and is used to electrically alter brain waves through artificially inducing seizures. ECT is typically considered a treatment for depression. ECT also has a history of frequent involuntary and coercive use, which is also deeply ableist and abusive; however, there are people who voluntarily give their informed consent to receive ECT. The JRC does not gain consent from the people to whom they subject the GED device, which is much more analogous to a dog shock collar — staff press a button on a remote control, which then administers an extremely painful shock to the recipient.
Photo: Five people (four white, one east asian, all ambulatory and standing) holding hand-made protest signs outside the Food and Drug Administration’s White Oak Campus in Maryland. The signs say, “No Compromise on Torture,” “People Not Experiments,” “Shocked for… hugging staff, swearing, nagging, getting out of seat, taking off coat, screaming, tensing up, closing eyes, raising hand. BAN the GED.,” “Stop the Shocks,” “Disability Rights are Human Rights,” and “Torture Not Treatment.” Left to right: Diane Engster, Lydia X. Z. Brown, Shain M. Neumeier, Kathleen Nicole O’Neal, and Patrick T. Ayers. Photo by Taylor C. Hall. January 2013.
Documents & Resources
Survivor Jennifer Msumba’s Blog (and other work)
Photo: Biracial black woman, Jennifer Msumba, speaking in interview with CBS’s Anna Werner, 5 August 2014.
Jennifer Msumba, a biracial autistic woman, was held in the Judge Rotenberg Center for several years from March 2002 to April 2009. After testifying via video at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s advisory panel hearing in April 2014, she began to write a blog documenting her experiences at the JRC. She also spoke on an October 2014 panel (along with disabled attorneys Deepa Goraya and Shain Neumeier) at Georgetown University on disability and institutional abuse.
- The Real Judge Rotenberg Center (main page) by Jennifer Msumba (begins in June 2014, most recent update July 2015)
- Behavior sheet (chart of “behaviors” designated for a shock) (14 June 2015)
- Text-accessible version of behavior sheet with abbreviations/euphemisms chart
- This was my “Portion Program” (1 June 2015)
- The Day I Spoke Up (4 March 2015)
- Used and Abused (14 February 2015)
- Punished for nothing (9 June 2014)
- Autistic Self Advocacy Network “JRC Survivor Speaks Out” series (November 2014):
- Jennifer Msumba’s FDA video testimony transcript (24 April 2014)
- CBS extended interview with Jennifer Msumba (5 August 2014)
- The Hoya: Panel Talks Disability Rights (31 October 2014)
- The Georgetown Voice: Disability rights advocates speak to students about institutional abuse and torture in America (29 October 2014)
Additional Stories/Accounts from Survivors
Some of the links in this section are cross-listed in the archive, as these are intended to highlight survivors’ accounts.
- (Video) Ramona Rodriguez with Christopher Levine (spelling might be wrong because I have an auditory processing disability): Expressing how I feel about Judge rotenberg Center and parents (27 February 2018)
- (Video) Jen Msumba: Escaping The Judge Rotenberg Center (16 February 2018)
- (Video) Jen Msumba: Electric Skin Shock, Aversives and the Judge Rotenberg Center (1 June 2017)
- (Video) Jen Msumba: What are my nightmares about? The Judge Rotenberg Center (16 February 2017)
- (Video) Jen Msumba: My Life Inside The Judge Rotenberg Center- Skin Shock | Aversives | What It Was Like (31 December 2016)
- Ian Cook: Transcript of testimony given before FDA public hearing (24 April 2014)
- CBS Video of extended interview with Jennifer Msumba (autistic survivor of the JRC)
- Terri Du Bois’s description of her experiences on Mass Live: “This controversial Massachusetts facility is the last in the country to use electric shock on students” by Heather Adams (22 July 2016)
- Judge Rotenberg Center Survivor’s Letter by Anonymous (xxx) (15 January 2013)
- Anna Kosovskaya: Anna Kosovskaya escapes the Judge Rotenberg Center of Applied Behavior Analysis electroshock “treatment/torture”: Anna’s self-reported adventures with interviewer analysis with Dave Jersey (11 June 2015)
- Reddit: IamA/AMA (Ask Me Anything) “Former student at The Judge Rotenberg Center” (11 April 2012) (language warning: frequent use of the r-slur for people with intellectual/developmental disabilities)
Survivor Andre McCollins’s 2012 Civil Trial Coverage
Photo: Young Black man, Andre McCollins, staring past the camera, 3 September 2012. Photo by Andres Serrano.
In 2002, JRC staff shocked Andre McCollins, a black and autistic teenager, 31 times in seven hours while in four-point restraints for refusing to take off his jacket (and saying “no”) when asked. All but two of the shocks were for “tensing up” or “screaming.” McCollins and his mother, Cheryl, brought a medical malpractice lawsuit against the JRC, which went to trial in April 2012 after the JRC’s lawyers spent years trying to suppress the video footage of the electric shocks. This case marked the first time video of the shocks (photosensitive epilepsy warning on the video, which is also extremely graphic) ever aired publicly. Shain M. Neumeier, an autistic and multiply-disabled attorney (and my partner), attended most of this trial and wrote this series of articles on the events.
Autistic Self Advocacy Network “The Judge Rotenberg Center on Trial” series (April 2012):
Additionally, Andre McCollins’s recording sheet from the day when he received 31 shocks:
- Andre McCollins’s GED shock recording sheet, used as evidence in an investigation by the Massachusetts Disabled Persons Protection Commission, not text-accessible (25 October 2002)
Photo: Emily Titon, a short white person, hugging Cheryl McCollins, a tall Black woman, in the rain, while unloading boxes with printed signatures on a petition to ban the shocks to be delivered in the Massachusetts State House on 9 May 2012. Photo by Charles Krupa.
U.S. State Government Agencies
Massachusetts Department of Developmental Services (formerly Department of Mental Retardation)
- Response to Testimony and Written Comments to Proposed Amendments to Behavior Modification Regulations, 115 CMR 5.14 (14 October 2011)
- Office of Quality Management, Quality Enhancement Division Survey and Certification Report (9 January 2009)
- In re: Appeal of Jennel Chisholm (16 May 2007)
Jennel Chisholm’s name is revealed inadvertently in this document, but she is also named in the JRC’s own materials.
- JRC Recertification Letter and Report, not text-accessible (3 February 2004)
- Investigation report in the death of Linda Cornelison, not text-accessible (3 January 1995)
- Cover letter and appendices to investigation report in the death of Linda Cornelison, not text-accessible (28 December 1994)
Massachusetts Department of Education
- Private Special Education School Program Review Report of Findings for Judge Rotenberg Education Center (28 March 2007)
- Private Special Education School Program Review Report of Findings for Judge Rotenberg Education Center (7 August 2012)
- Mid-cycle Review and Verification of previous Program Review Corrective Action Plan (4 December 2014)
Massachusetts Disabled Persons Protection Commission
- Full text of complaints against the JRC lodged with the DPPC from 2006 through 2013, not in order (with letters that appear to be copies of letters from former staff and outspoken advocate Gregory J. Miller). PDF does not seem to be text-accessible at this time.
- Spreadsheets (six sheets in the same workbook) summarizing the complaints in the full record linked above, prepared by Evan Anderson. Text-accessible but possibly confusing.
Massachusetts Executive Office of Health and Human Services, MassHealth
- MassHealth School-Based Medicaid Bulletin re: Claiming Medicaid Reimbursement for Students Placed in the Judge Rotenberg Center (April 2013)
New York State Education Department
- Observations and Findings of Out-of-State Program Visitation Judge Rotenberg Educational Center (9 June 2006)
- Letter on JRC noncompliance with NYSED regulations, giving 30 day notice to respond (23 March 2009)
- New York State Education Department Letter to JRC, giving 30 days notice to cease use of GED on any New York resident (12 March 2013)
New York State Office of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities (now Office for People with Developmental Disabilities) and Department of Education
- Letter to families of JRC residents noting that OPWDD has successfully relocated people formerly placed at JRC to other programs within New York State (26 September 2013)
- Investigation report into Behavior Research Institute, not text-accessible (11 January 1979)
California Department of Social Services
- Investigation report “In the matter of the accusation against Behavior Research Institute of California”, not text-accessible (29 January 1982)
District of Columbia, Office of the Attorney General
- Letter defending District of Columbia’s choice to place an individual at JRC to receive aversive interventions (20 October 2011)
U.S. Federal Government Agencies
U.S. Food and Drug Administration
- Press Release: FDA proposes ban on electrical stimulation devices intended to treat self-injurious or aggressive behavior (22 April 2016)
- Proposal to Ban Electrical Stimulation Devices Used to Treat Self-Injurious or Aggressive Behavior (25 April 2016). The first 8 pages are plain language; the next 116 pages are legal text.
- Summary of the Neurological Devices Panel Meeting, published 24 hours after the hearing (24 April 2014)
- Full transcript of Open Public Hearing of the Medical Devices Advisory Committee, Neurological Devices Panel (24 April 2014)
- Executive Summary prepared for the April 24, 2014 meeting of the Neurological Devices Panel: Electrical Stimulation Devices for Aversive Conditioning (April 2014)
- Warning letter from FDA to JRC (6 December 2012)
This is the letter requiring representatives of the JRC to attend a January 2013 meeting at the FDA’s White Oak, Maryland campus.
- Response from the JRC to the warning letter (21 December 2012)
- Observations from FDA inspection of JRC conducted between 3 October 2012 and 17 October 2012 (prepared 17 October 2012)
- Warning letter from FDA about continued noncompliance with federal regulations (29 June 2012)
- Warning letter from FDA about noncompliance with premarket notification requirements for devices (23 May 2011)
- Letter clarifying “clearance” of GED electric shock device and JRC noncompliance with regulations (14 February 2000)
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services
- Letter to Massachusetts Executive Office of Health and Human Services (14 December 2012)
- Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services letter to MA Health and Human Services (11 July 2012)
U.S. National Council on Disability
United States Mission to the United Nations and Other International Organizations in Geneva
- Letter to the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment and the Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, with attachments (15 January 2013)
U.S. Court Cases Involving JRC
Judge Rotenberg Educational Center, Inc., et al. v. Commissioners of the Department of Developmental Services and the Department of Early Education and Care (Bristol County Probate and Family Court)
The case was originally filed in 1986 when JRC was known as the Behavior Research Institute. The named defendants have also been changed since 1986, as the original defendant was Mary Kay Leonard, Director of the former Office for Children.
- Motion to Vacate 1987 Consent Decree
- Plain-language explanation of this proceeding (ongoing as of May 2016)
- Defendants’ Memorandum of Law in Support of Motion under Probate and Family Court Rule 60 and Mass. R. Civ. P. 60(b)(5) to Vacate Consent Decree (14 February 2013)
- Defendants’ Motion under Probate and Family Court Rule 60 and Mass. R. Civ. P. 60(b)(5) to Vacate Consent Decree (14 February 2013)
- Settlement Agreement (with amendments) (12 December 1986 through 29 December 1988)
This is the settlement agreement that became a “consent decree” allowing JRC to use aversives, including electric shock, so long as they first received court approval through “substituted judgment” proceedings.
- Sen. Joyce Applauds Gov.’s Efforts to Stop Abuse at JRC
A press release about Governor Deval Patrick’s Feb. 14th, 2013 motion with the Probate Court in Massachusetts to vacate the 1987 settlement agreement allowing the use of aversives at the Judge Rotenberg Center.
Antwone Nicholson and Evelyn Nicholson v. Freeport Union School District and the Judge Rotenberg Educational Center, Inc. (Appellate Division of the Supreme Court of New York, Second Department)
Evelyn Nicholson and Antwone Nicholson v. State of New York (Court of Claims)
- Opinion of the Court (15 December 2008)
The United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture
- Report of the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, Juan E. Méndez, Addendum (March 2013)
See page 84 for the JRC. (PDF)
Independent and Nonprofit/Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) Reports and Letters
- National ADAPT Camp Protest at FDA and White House beginning March 2018
- Press Release: ADAPT Demands the FDA to Stop Shocking Disabled People into Submission (9 March 2018)
- Press Release: Day 2: ADAPT Continues Protests Against FDA Director Demanding an End to the Torture of Disabled People at JRC (10 March 2018)
- Press Release – ADAPT Goes to the White House to Ask President Trump to Ban Torture Devices on Disabled Children and Adults (12 March 2018)
- Press Release – The Power of ADAPT: Resolute in the Most Difficult Circumstances (13 March 2018)
- Press Release – Pain and Fear Teach Nothing: An ADAPTer Reflects on the Judge Rotenberg Center, featuring Cal Montgomery (15 March 2018)
- Press Release: ADAPT Applauds Congressman Chris Smith’s Leadership in Ending the Abuse of Disabled People (16 March 2018)
- Press Release – ADAPT Throws Block Party for FDA Director Gottlieb’s Neighbors (18 March 2018)
- Visit to JRC on 4 July 2015 by Jay M. Rosenthal and Jacob Persico (produced two reports):
- Judge Rotenberg Center Report by Jacob Persico (2016)
- Assessment of Therapeutic Practices at The Judge Rotenberg Educational Center, Inc. by Jay M. Rosenthal (9 July 2015)
- Report by Monitor Judge Isaac Borenstein (Ret.) for the Judge Rotenberg Educational Center
The initial report on the investigation conducted by the court-appointed monitor retained after the 2007 incident. (PDF, not text-accessible, exploring options to make all 131 pages text-accessible) (22 February 2013)
- Letter from James M. Atkinson, Granite Island Group, to Canton Police Department (December 2012)
The first 8 pages contain Atkinson’s letter; the remainder of the 190 total pages contain attachments of various documents.
- Letter from the Community Alliance for Ethical Treatment for Youth (CAFETY) on Massachusetts Department of Developmental Services proposed regulations to limit aversives, prepared by Shain Neumeier (2011)
- Mental Disability Rights International: Torture Not Treatment: Electric Shock and Long-Term Restraint in the United States on Children and Adults with Disabilities at the Judge Rotenberg Center by Laurie Ahern and Eric Rosenthal (30 April 2010)
- Letter from the Alliance to Prevent Restraint, Aversive Interventions, and Seclusion requesting an end to federal Medicaid funding for JRC (10 January 2013)
- Letter from Disability Advocates: A Call to Action to Eliminate the Use of Aversive Procedures and Other Inhumane Practices (September 2009)
- Addendum to the September 2009 Letter from Disability Advocates: A Call to Action to Eliminate the Use of Aversive Procedures and Other Inhumane Practices (September 2009)
- A Short History of Aversives in Massachusetts by Polyxane S. Cobb (2005)
U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Notice of Proposed Rule-Making to Ban Contingent Electric Shock Aversive Conditioning Devices, April 2016 (comments due 25 July 2016)
Massachusetts Legislature, Joint Committee on Children, Families, and Persons with Disabilities, July 2015
- Testimony from Shain M. Neumeier, independent autistic attorney/activist
- Testimony from Finn Gardiner, Autistic Self Advocacy Network Boston Coordinator
- Testimony from Lydia Brown, Massachusetts Developmental Disabilities Council chairperson (written submission)
- Lydia Brown testimony in Massachusetts against electric shock aversives. Captioned video (but it cuts off at the very end of the testimony).
U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Advisory Panel Hearing, April 2014
- Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR) Calls on the FDA to Pull Plug on Judge Rotenberg Center Electroshocking Kids—UN Calls Use of Electroshock as Punishment Akin to Torture (8 August 2014)
- American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) written testimony prepared by Laura W. Murphy and Jennifer Bellamy
- Lydia Brown, on behalf of TASH New England: The Moral and Legal Bases for Banning Aversive Conditioning Devices Used for Contingent Electric Shock
- Autistic Self Advocacy Network
Massachusetts Legislature, Joint Committee on Children, Families, and Persons with Disabilities, July 2011
- Testimony from Lydia Brown, as an independent autistic citizen
Letter to American Psychological Association, 2007
- “A Call for Ethical and Unprejudiced Leadership and Practice in the Field: An Autism & Mental Health Community Letter” by Derrick Jeffries, Person with Asperger’s Syndrome, and Nancy Weiss, Co-Director, The National Leadership Consortium on Developmental Disabilities, Center for Disabilities Studies, University of Delaware (10 October 2007)
Fredda Brown expert testimony against use of aversives
- For a case in 1999
- For a case in 2000
Op-Eds, Letters to the Editor, and Editorials
- Stop the Shocks: Torture in Massachusetts by Cal Montgomery (Mad in America), 9 March 2018
- Why Hasn’t Electric Shock Treatment For Autistic People Been Banned? by Lydia X. Z. Brown (The Establishment), 3 August 2016
- Past time to ban skin shocks to disabled by Shain M. Neumeier (USA Today), 16 May 2016
- FDA’s Banning Authority: Still Only for Hard Cases by Nancy Stade (Medical Device and Diagnostic Industry), 15 April 2016
- It’s illegal to torture prisoners, but not disabled people by Lydia Brown (Washington Post), 22 July 2014
- When Treatment Becomes Torture: This is What Disabled Oppression Looks Like by Lydia Brown (The Fire This Time), 20 March 2013
- Torture is torture by any other name by Liza Behrendt (The Justice), 30 October 2007
- Whether or not they are efficient, aversive shocks are immoral and must be stopped at all cost by Liza Behrendt (The Justice), 16 October 2007
- Letter to the Editor: Good intentions and wishes do not make the actions of the Judge Rotenberg Center right or just by Lev Hirschhorn (The Justice), 16 October 2007
- Shocks inefficient and immoral by Nathan Robinson, Brandeis Students United Against the Judge Rotenberg Center (The Justice), 9 October 2007
- Letter to the Editor: Rotenberg center must be stopped by Kenneth Mollins (The Justice), 9 October 2007
- Editorial: Aversive shocks Abhorrent by the Board of The Justice, Brandeis University newspaper (2 October 2007)
- Extreme Measures by Mike Stanton (2 April 2006)
- National Autism Association opposes the Judge Rotenberg Center by Mike Stanton (25 June 2006)
- Why Students Praise the Judge Rotenberg Center by Mel Baggs (6 December 2006)
- Judge Rotenberg Center – Close it Down! by Mike Stanton (28 October 2007)
- Judge Rotenberg Center – latest research by Mike Stanton (15 November 2007)
- Judge Rotenberg Center Survivor’s Letter by Anonymous (15 January 2013)
- Anna Kosovskaya escapes the Judge Rotenberg Center of Applied Behavior Analysis electroshock “treatment/torture”: Anna’s self-reported adventures with interviewer analysis with Dave Jersey (11 June 2015)
- Letter from Former Teacher at Torture Center by Gregory Miller (16 January 2013)
- This is how I feel when I read a lot of posts about the Judge Rotenberg Center. by Mel Baggs (9 June 2014)
- Information on the Judge Rotenberg Center: Facts, questions and answers about the abusive school (well, one of the worst of many) that tortures the mentally different because they are mentally different by Katherine May Cunningham (26 October 2014)
By Autistic Hoya (Lydia Brown)
- Level III Aversives and the Judge Rotenberg Center
A summary of my testimony and the JRC’s testimony at a 2011 hearing of the Massachusetts Department of Developmental Services regarding new regulations (promulgated) prohibiting the use of the graduated electronic decelerator (GED) shock device on newly admitted students at the JRC.
- End the torture. Make this go viral. (11 April 2012)
A post regarding the clip from surveillance footage of autistic teenager Andre McCollins receiving 31 shocks in seven hours while at the JRC in 2002 that was aired during a civil trial against the JRC in April 2012.
- Do you remember the Autistic boy inside the bag? (5 May 2012)
A letter to readers regarding former JRC staffer Gregory Miller’s petition to end electric shock at the JRC.
- What they do to us is intolerable! (18 May 2012)
A summary of a workshop that I co-presented with Emily Titon at the TASH New England conference in May 2012 about the JRC’s practices and history.
- The End of Torture at the Judge Rotenberg Center? (15 February 2013)
Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick’s administration files a motion to vacate (render null) the 1987 court settlement that’s kept the JRC open and that the JRC has been using to justify its activities. (Those documents are linked above.)
- Another Blow to the Judge Rotenberg Center (27 February 2013)
A press release from New York City Councilman Vincent Gentile calling for 120 students to be removed and $13 million to be cut from the JRC’s revenue, from February 2013.
- Updates on the Judge Rotenberg Center and Autistic Hoya in the News (4 April 2013)
A smattering of updates including links to uploads (original, high contrast, and text-accessible) of the NYSED’s 2013 letter to the JRC, and the two letters from CMS to the Massachusetts EOHHS from 2012. (Those letters are linked above.)
News articles are organized chronologically from oldest to newest.
- The Boston Phoenix: A Glimpse into the Judge Rotenberg Center’s Fractious History by Ric Kahn with photos by Michael Romanos (26 November 1985)
- HTML text-accessible transcription (with brief commentary)
- Text-accessible PDF (with brief commentary)
- Original scanned PDF (not text-accessible; very tiny text)
- New York Times: Discipline Ruling at Autism Facility by Fox Butterfield (31 December 1985)
- People: Some Call It Torture, but a New England School Says That Its Therapy Is Taming Autistic Students by William Plummer with Cable Neuhaus (14 April 1986)
- Boston Globe: N.Y. report denounces shock use at school: Says students are living in fear by Scott Allen (15 June 2006)
- Taunton Gazette: Mother copes with therapy; Shock therapy defended by Rory Schuler (October 2006)
- Mother Jones: School of Shock by Jennifer Gonnerman (20 August 2007)
- Mother Jones: Nagging? Zap. Swearing? Zap. by Jennifer Gonnerman (20 August 2007)
- The Justice: Robinson ’11 testifies in Rotenberg hearing by Sarah Bayer (29 January 2008)
- The Justice: Club supports state legislation by Ruth Orbach (1 April 2008)
- ABC Nightline: UN Calls Shock Treatment at Mass. School ‘Torture’ by Katie Hinman and Kimberly Brown (30 June 2010)
- 219 Magazine: New York’s boarding school of hard knocks by Lisa Riordan Seville, Hannah Rappleye, Teresa Tomassoni and Khristina Narizhnaya (24 August 2011)
- Time: ‘Shock’ School Trial: Where Is the Evidence that Abuse Helps Treat Autism? by Maia Szalavitz (23 April 2012)
- FOX 25 MyFoxBoston: Judge Rotenberg Center case on Anderson Cooper today (1 June 2012)
- FOX 25 MyFoxBoston: Protesters rally against Judge Rotenberg Center (2 June 2012)
- Boston Globe: Protesters urge ban on use of shock therapy at center by Christopher J. Girard (3 June 2012)
- FOX 25 MyFoxBoston: U.N. investigating Judge Rotenberg Center’s use of shocks by Mike Beaudet (4 July 2012)
- New York Magazine: 31 Shocks Later by Jennifer Gonnerman (2 September 2012)
- ABA Journal: A Question of Education: For Some Parents, Shock Treatments Are Only Hope for Helping Their Kids by Anna Stolley Persky (1 January 2013)
- FOX 25 MyFoxBoston: FDA meets on school shock device, warns of violations (9 January 2013)
- Disability Scoop: Advocates Want School Using Shock Therapy Defunded by Shaun Heasley (28 January 2013)
- Boston Globe: Patrick fights Rotenberg shock therapy decree by Chelsea Conaboy (16 February 2013)
- Forbes: Autism Shock Therapy Practiced In US Is Torture, Says UN Official by Emily Willingham (8 March 2013)
- CBS: Controversy over shocking people with autism, behavioral disorders by Anna Werner (5 August 2014)
- Pro Publica: New York City Sends $30 Million a Year to School With History of Giving Kids Electric Shocks by Heather Vogell and Annie Waldman (23 December 2014)
- EdSource: Controversial psychologist found working at special ed schools by Jane Meredith Adams (27 August 2015)
- Forbes: FDA Proposes Ban On Electric Shock Devices Used On Autistic Children by Emily Willingham (22 April 2016)
- News Medical: FDA intends to ban electrical stimulation devices to ensure safety, well-being of patients (25 April 2016)
- WCVB ABC5: 5 Investigates: Feds want ban on controversial shocks used at Canton behavioral school by Mike Beaudet and Kevin Rothstein (25 April 2016)
- Pro Publica: FDA to Massachusetts Group Home: Stop Shocking Disabled Residents by Heather Vogell (26 April 2016)
- Mass Live: This controversial Massachusetts facility is the last in the country to use electric shock on students by Heather Adams (22 July 2016)
- Mass Live: Advocates hope FDA will ban electric shock devices used at Judge Rotenberg Center in Canton by Heather Adams (22 July 2016)
- Mass Live: Judge Rotenberg Center has history on its side as FDA looks to ban electric shock therapy by Heather Adams (22 July 2016)
- The Enterprise: Judge Rotenberg Center resident charged with cutting man in Easton by Cody Shepard (16 August 2016)
- CBS Boston: Man Charged With Assaulting Students At Judge Rotenberg Center Home by Bill Shields (10 October 2016)
- WCVB5 (ABC) Boston: State asks judge for ability to ban painful shock treatment for disabled by Mike Beaudet and Kevin Rothstein (20 October 2016)
- The Enterprise: Judge Rotenberg Center resident charged with assault in Stoughton by Cody Shepard (21 October 2016)
- WCVB5 (ABC) Boston: Group protests outside Canton behavioral school known for shock therapy (31 October 2016)
- Boston Globe: Protesters demonstrate against electroshock therapy in Canton by Travis Andersen (31 October 2016)
- WHDH 7 News: Protesters gather outside Canton’s Judge Rotenberg Center, with Sky7 aerial footage (31 October 2016)
- Fox25: Hundreds protest electro-shock therapy at Judge Rotenberg Center (31 October 2016)
- The Patriot Ledger (Wicked Local Canton): Activists call for changes at the Judge Rotenberg Center in Canton by Fred Hanson (31 October 2016)
- Blasting News: Judge Rotenberg Center, Massachusetts targeted by disability rights group ADAPT by Matt Stafford (1 November 2016)
- Mass Live: ADAPT protests at State House, Judge Rotenberg Center for disability rights; ‘I’d rather go to jail than die in Rotenberg!’ by Heather Adams (3 November 2016)
- NOS Magazine: ADAPT Protests at White House to Stop the Shocks by Cal Montgomery (12 March 2018)
- WHEC: Activists fight to ban shock devices by Brennan Somers (13 March 2018)
- Disability Scoop: Disability Activists Urge FDA To Ban Shock Devices by Michelle Diament (13 March 2018)
- Rewire: Activists Tell FDA Head: Ban Electric Shocks on People With Autism by s.e. smith (16 March 2018)
- Complaints Allege Abuse at the Judge Rotenberg Educational Center: The focus on the use of shock devices at the Judge Rotenberg Center overlooks the numerous reports of physical, emotional, and psychological abuse that plague the institution. by Evan Anderson, published on Medium with supporting documentation (also mirrored on this page in the above state agency section for Massachusetts Disabled Persons Protection Commission) (4 May 2016)
- “Prisoners of the Apparatus”: The Judge Rotenberg Center by Quentin Davies, published by the Autistic Self Advocacy Network (9 August 2014)
- The New Panopticon by Selene DePackh (Asp in the Garden), published by NeuroQueer Editions: Subverting the Dominant Paradigm of Neurodiversity One Semiotic Construct At a Time (2013)
- When Treatment is Torture: Protecting People with Disabilities Detained in Institutions by Eric Rosenthal and Laurie Ahern, article published in Human Rights Brief (2012)
- Limiting the Use of Aversives at the Judge Rotenberg Center under the Federal Civil Rights Act by Shain Neumeier (2012)
- The Use of Restraint, Seclusion and Aversives in Special Education Settings by Shain Neumeier (9 May 2012)
- The Path to Aversive Interventions: Four Mothers’ Perceptions by Fredda Brown and Dina A. Traniello, article published in the TASH journal, Research and Practice for Persons with Severe Disabilities. (2010)
- On Punishments: The Continuing Debate over Aversive Therapy on Punishment: New York State, the Judge Rotenberg Center and the Continuing Debate over Aversive Therapy by Daniel W. Morton-Bentley, article published in Holy Cross Journal of Law and Public Policy (2010)
- Protecting the Legal Interests of Children When Shocking, Restraining, and Secluding Are the Means to and Educational End by Justin J. Farrell, article published in St. John’s Law Review (2009)
- Tipping the Scales: How Guardianship of Brandon Has Upset Massachusetts’ Balanced. Substituted Judgment Doctrine by Peter Skinner, article published in the Boston College Law Review (1 July 1999)
From the JRC/BRI (and supporters) directly
- Op-Ed: Please Don’t Take Away My Autistic Son’s Treatment by Paul E. Peterson in the Wall Street Journal (24 June 2016) Also available in scanned PDF (not text-accessible).
- Op-Ed: The FDA may ban the treatment keeping our daughter alive by Mitchell and Marcia Shear in the Washington Post PostEverything section (24 June 2014)
- JRC presentation (PowerPoint slides) to Food and Drug Administration for hearing (24 April 2014)
- Letters from JRC parents, including Mitchell Shear, and responses from New York State Senate Finance Committee and Assembly Ways and Means Committee, not text-accessible (10 July 2013, 26 September 2013, 8 November 2013, 11 February 2014)
- Full Statement from the Judge Rotenberg Educational Center Parents Association (13 November 2012)
- JRC response to Mental Disability Rights International report, “Behavioral Skin Shock Saves Individuals with Severe Behavior Disorders from a Life of Seclusion, Restraint and/or Warehousing as well as the Ravages of Psychotropic Medication” by Matthew L. Israel (8 June 2010)
- JRC application for eligibility for funding/placement with Illinois State Board of Education, including attachments with organization chart (30 January 2008)
- LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Shock treatment saved our son’s life when all hope seemed lost by James and Phyllis Shields in The Justice, Brandeis University newspaper (6 November 2007)
- OP-ED: Extreme rhetoric clouds shock debate by Taylor Shiells in The Justice, Brandeis University newspaper (this student is sympathetic to the JRC and opposes the student group organized against the JRC) (23 October 2007)
- OP-ED: Center’s treatment saves lives of youth by Matthew Israel in The Justice, Brandeis University newspaper, in response to Brandeis Students United Against the Judge Rotenberg Center (9 October 2007)
- JRC response to the New York State Education Department investigation report (2006)
- Op-Ed: TELEVISION VIEW; A Few Scary Pictures Can Go a Long Way by Walter Goodman in the New York Times (20 March 1994). Also available in PDF.
- Ramona Rodriguez with Christopher Levine (spelling might be wrong because I have an auditory processing disability): Expressing how I feel about Judge rotenberg Center and parents (27 February 2018)
- Jen Msumba: Escaping The Judge Rotenberg Center (16 February 2018)
- Jen Msumba: Electric Skin Shock, Aversives and the Judge Rotenberg Center (1 June 2017)
- Jen Msumba: What are my nightmares about? The Judge Rotenberg Center (16 February 2017)
- Jen Msumba: My Life Inside The Judge Rotenberg Center- Skin Shock | Aversives | What It Was Like (31 December 2016)
- Footage of the Judge Rotenberg Center torturing a person with a disability aired in court (Graphic) Photo-sensitive epilepsy warning.
- Extended interview with Jennifer Msumba (autistic survivor of the JRC)
- Shain Neumeier, presentation on Aversives, Autistic Self Advocacy Network, Symposium on Ethical, Legal, and Social Implications of Autism Research, 10 December 2010 (captioned, but text-accessible transcript not available) — The video will start at Shain’s presentation.
- Lydia Brown testimony in Massachusetts against electric shock aversives. Captioned video (but it cuts off at the very end of the testimony). (July 2015)
- Protesters Rally Against Judge Rotenberg Center (2 June 2012)
- Raw video from June 2012 protest by the Community Alliance for the Ethical Treatment of Youth (CAFETY)
- Electric Shock Treatments in MA
- FOX Undercover: Rotenberg Attorney
- FOX Undercover: Rotenberg Mother
- Gov. Patrick Supports Shock Ban
- JRC expert admits shocks didn’t work
- Jury gets Rotenberg case
- Restraints needed for safety, doc says
- Rotenberg trial ends with settlement
- Shock damage detailed by expert
- Shocked teen was cared for, school says
- Son not the same since shocks, mom says
- Staff tried to help teen, lawyers say
- State raised concerns about shock school
- FOX Undercover on Judge Rotenberg Center
- Teen tied and shocked for hours
- The Truth about JRC (Myths and Facts) from the Autistic Self Advocacy Network Boston Chapter (2015)
- Occupy JRC: Judge Rotenberg Center 7 Untruths (7 July 2012)
- Stop the Torture on Children! Local action organized by People First of New Hampshire (9 June 2012)
- Autistic Self Advocacy Network: When it comes to torture, it’s time to pick a side. (May 2012)
This flyer was prepared in advance of the Association for Behavior Analysis International annual conference, where the JRC has frequently been an invited exhibitor.
- Occupy the Judge Rotenberg Center / Close the JRC (archived site, last updated 5 July 2012)
- Stop the Judge Rotenberg Center (last updated 19 June 2015)
- Greg Miller’s Change.org petition “Judge Rotenberg Educational Center: Please Stop Painful Electric Shocks on Your Students” (2012)
- The Truth About The Judge Rotenberg Center
- Massachusetts Students United Against The Judge Rotenberg Center
The Judge Rotenberg Center:
An Environment of Torture
Infographic by Cascades Islwyn (2015)
Click image to zoom. Caption below image.
[Image description written by Vlad Drăculea: this is an info-graphic that is mostly text, with one pie-graph in the center, but otherwise consists of bullet lists and short blurbs citing the injustices regularly committed by the Judge Rotenberg Center.
There are three horizontal sections. The top section contains a large cream-color title banner framed mostly in a dark-salmon color. In large fonts, the title reads:
The Judge Rotenberg Center: An Environment of Torture
The next horizontal section contains three black vertical sub-sections banded at the top by a muted-teal-color banner that spans the width of the info-graphic. The text on this banner reads:
What is the JRC?
The JRC, in Canton, Massachusetts, is legally considered a residential school, and is licensed by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. Students with disabilities at the JRC are subjected to torture techniques: shock aversives, food and sleep deprivation, social isolation, restraint, and seclusion.
This banner points to the left-most sub-section, where the text reads:
“ By the Numbers:
6: Numbers of deaths due to JRC abuse and negligence (if not more)
52: Millions of dollars of revenue the JRC makes every year.
240: Number of students at the JRC currently (approx.)
80: Number of students of JRC who are subjected to shocks (approx.)
5,000: Number of shocks one student received in one day.
2: Years some students are kept in almost constant restraint.
In the center-most section, there is a pie chart, titled:
Racial Disproportionality at the JRC:
Below the chart are numbers associated with each color in the chart. Text reads:
45% Black/African American; 28.1% Latino/a; 21.1% White; 3.9% Pacific Islander; 1.6% Multiracial
The right-most sub-section contains a quote:
“The rights of the students of the JRC subjected to Level III Aversive Interventions by means of electric shock and physical means of restraints have been violated under the UN Convention Against Torture and other international standards.” – Juan E. Méndez, UN Special Rapporteur on Torture
At the bottom of the middle horizontal section, there is another banner that spans the width of the info-graphic, this time dark-salmon-color and pointing at the Méndez quote above on the right. The text on this banner reads:
The JRC uses 2 shock aversive devices on students: the Graduated Electronic Decelerator (GED), which delivers a shock of 15.5 milliamps lasting up to 2 seconds, and the GED-4 which subjects students to stronger shocks of 45.5 milliamps. For reference, most stun belts deliver shocks of approximately 3-4 milliamps. The shocks often cause blistering red spots.
The lowest horizontal section is divided into two sub-sections. The lower-left section has a cream-color background and consists of a bullet list. The text reads:
JRC students are shocked as punishment for:
• involuntary body movements,
• waving hands,
• putting fingers in one’s own ears,
• tensing up one’s body,
• not answering staff quickly enough,
• screaming while being shocked,
• closing eyes for more than 15 seconds,
• reacting in fear to other students being shocked,
• standing up, asking to use the bathroom,
• raising one’s hand,
• saying “no”,
• stopping work for more than 10 seconds,
• interrupting others,
• tearing up paper,
• attempting to remove shock electrodes,
• making 5 noises in one hour.
The lower-right sub-section is muted-teal and its text reads:
The JRC has created an environment of fear for students with disabilities who attend the school. Its practices are torturous and traumatizing for students. It has shown a complete lack of regard for the safety and wellbeing of its students.
Where to go from here?
In 2011, the JRC was banned from using physical aversives on new admissions to JRC. However, many JRC students have been at the school for years and still are being subjected to physical aversives. The school is adamant to keep using shock punishments on its students.
Currently, the JRC relies on an outdated court settlement from 1987 as a defense against regulation of its use of physical aversives. This court order was extended indefinitely, and allows the JRC unchecked power to abuse JRC students. Overturning this court order would be a step in challenging the JRC.
In 2014, an FDA advisory board recommended that the GED and GED-4 that JRC uses be banned. The hearing included testimony from former students and disability rights activists. This advisory panel does not have the authority to ban the aversives, but the FDA could take its recommendation.
SHUT DOWN THE JRC
End of image description.]