DAA News Network

USA: Torture alleged at ‘special needs school’

Posted 06/5-10 at 01.23

Mental Disability Rights International (MDRI) has claimed that in the name of ‘treatment' disabled children and young adults are in effect being tortured at the Judge Rotenberg Centre (JRC) in Canton, Massachusetts. According to their report, JRC‘s practices are based on the theory that behaviour can be changed by a system of rewards and punishments. This is called ‘aversive therapy'. At JRC it involves disabled children being forcefully restrained or isolated, as well as frequently subjected to painful electric shocks to all parts of their body.

The report's authors say, ‘To the best of our knowledge, JRC is the only facility of any kind in the United States - and perhaps indeed in the world - which uses electricity, combined with long-term restraint and other punishments, to intentionally cause pain to its children with behavioral challenges and calls it -treatment.'

A psychologist who visited JRC on behalf of the New York State Department of Education commented, ‘The level of shock is unbelievable, very painful .... No other class of citizen in the United States could be subjected to this. You could not do this to a convicted felon.'

The report's findings are in line with many other investigations into JRC. However, despite overwhelming evidence of cruel and inhuman treatment being inflicted on disabled children, these practices have continued for almost 40 years. Because of this and the failure of the domestic legal system to end the abuses, MDRI calls for an official inquiry by the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture, together with immediate intervention from the Obama Administration and the Department of Justice.

For the full report and a reply from the JRC, follow the links at: http://www.nbcnewyork.com/news/local-beat/Shocking_Claim__Human_Rights_Group_Says_NY_Students_Sent_to_Mass__for__Torture__New_York.html

On February 10, 2010, the Justice Department, responding to a detailed complaint signed by 31 US disability organizations, agreed to investigate JRC under title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). For a full account of the complaint and background to the case, see: http://leftbrainrightbrain.co.uk/2010/02/u-s-department-of-justice-opens-investigation-on-judge-rotenberg-cente/

For an earlier in-depth investigative report on JRC, see: http://motherjones.com/politics/2007/08/school-shock



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