Bruce is president of Citizens Commission on Human Rights…
Despite six children having died in its care, countless patient reports of abuse, FOX News showing a child writhing and screaming in agony as he is repeatedly shocked, and numerous lawsuits and damning governmental investigative reports, the facility now is in its fourth decade. But the frequency of continued complaints—both national and international—about the Judge Rotenberg Center’s [JRC] reward/punishment methods finally has prompted federal regulators to act—or, at least “think” about acting.
In April of this year, a special advisory panel of the FDA recommended a ban on the use of electrical stimulation devices (electroshock) for child behavior control or “aversive conditioning” at the JRC in Massachusetts. Despite the recommendations from the panel, the FDA has failed to act and pull the plug on the “treatment” used at JRC that literally has been called torture. During the April FDA public hearing on the JRC devices, nearly 20 advocacy and patient representative groups provided testimony, calling the products “unsafe,” “inhumane,” and a form of torture. Even the American Civil Liberties Union in Washington, D.C., testified that “the use of noxious [harmful or injurious] electrical stimulants is inhumane.”
In 2013, Juan E. Mendez, the new United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, wrote that the rights of the students at JRC who have been subjected to “electric shock and physical means of restraints have been violated under the U.N. Convention against Torture and other international standards.”
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