FDA: Ban Torture of People with Disabilities and #StopTheShock

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The Judge Rotenberg Center (JRC) in Canton, Massachusetts is a “treatment center” that uses their own, non-FDA approved electric shock devices on disabled people, primarily autistic people with and without intellectual disabilities, as a way of controlling their behavior.

Children and adults at the  JRC wear shock devices all day and staff of the facility deliver painful electric shocks remotely. It is the only program in the U.S. that uses these devices as punishment. The United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture determined that the use of these devices is not treatment -- it is torture.

In 2012 the American public became aware of what was going on inside JRC when video of Andre McCollins being shocked was released. Andre was a teenage resident of JRC. In 2002, he one day refused to take his coat off. The staff responded by placing Andre in restraints for 7 hours and shocking him 31 times. After this torture, Andre was in shock, comatose, and suffered burn wounds on his arms and legs. The trauma that he went through continues to negatively affect his mental health to this day.  

In 2014 the FDA held hearings about these devices. In April 2016 it drafted regulations to ban contingent shock -- but it has not implemented them. It is time for FDA to release the regulations.

What happened to Andre McCollins is not an isolated incident at JRC. The Judge Rotenberg Center claims that the electric shocks keep people from hurting themselves or others, but residents at the JRC are shocked for everything from swearing to standing up. Furthermore, electric shocks do not work to help people with disabilities avoid self-injury or aggression -- positive supports do. For every person being tortured at the JRC, there are many more people with the exact same disabilities, dealing with the exact same issues, being successfully supported in their communities without the use of dangerous and painful punishments.

The worldwide autistic community and our allies call on Scott Gottlieb, Commissioner the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, to immediately ban the use of contingent electric shock in behavior modification. Additionally, we call for the state of Massachusetts to immediately shut down the Judge Rotenberg Center (JRC) in Canton, Massachusetts. Shock torture is only one of the abuses at JRC. It needs to be closed entirely, and appropriate services created in its place.

All people have the right to freedom. This includes autistic people. The United States and the State of Massachusetts must protect those rights. Stop the shock, close JRC, and provide our people with the supports they need. Please sign this petition.



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