My video “Writing Out Loud Episode 4” is online and can be seen in the post Writing Out Loud with Jacob and Norman ep. 4, it talks about the Judge Rotenberg Center, and talks about change.
Here is some links and verified information about JRC that I used in the video:
Writing Out Loud Episode 4
Judge Rotenberg Center
The Judge Rotenberg Center was formally known as the Behavior Research Institute. The name was changed to honor Judge Ernest I. Rotenberg, who ruled in favor of the school in June of 1986. The school has been under controversy for over 20 years because of there use of aversives to treat behavior. The school used to be in Rhode Island, but they moved to Mass.
Food deprivation, spankings, forced inhalation, pinching, and other treatments were used to punish students. They have narrowed these down to just electric shock, and food deprivation. Students can be deprived of as much as 75% of there normal daily caloric target. The 65 volt 13mA shocks last for 2 full seconds and are delivered to the skin with a remote controlled device known as a GED. This shock device was designed by JRC after devices already on the market for humans were rejected as giving shocks that were to mild. JRC has now developed an even more powerful electric shock device known as the GED-4.
When is aversives used?:
Aversives are used at JRC to stop students’ self abusive behavior. If that was the only thing JRC used aversives for it wouldn’t bother me so much, however JRC also uses aversive electric shock to punish bed wetting, non-compliance, dosing during the day, and according to JRC’s web site (effectivetreatment.org/mlioutline00.html) they also use it for “Occasional use to punish refusals in the form of intentional wrong answers”.
According to JRC the average number of times a student is shocked is once per week. (Check out JRC’s FAQ at: http://www.judgerc.org/faqs.html – dead link, see archived page at http://web.archive.org/web/*/http://www.judgerc.org/faqs.html )
JRC in the News
The New York Times June 23, 1997 page B4 (first column) says:
Although scratching was his primary behavioral problem, he was eventually shocked for 72 actions. These included things B.R.I. felt were part of a “chain” of self-abuse: hiding parts of his body so he could scratch undetected, crossing his legs. But he was also shocked for things more on the order of cantankerous behavior: non-compliance of any sort, yelling, cursing.
He has also been incontinent. At night, an aid woke him every two hours to usher him to the bathroom. If he soiled his bed he would be shocked as he slept. He would be shocked for “tensing up” while asleep. The interrupted nights left him drowsy, but if he dozed during the day, he would be shocked.
The New York Times June 23, 1997 page B4 (first column) also says:
He also received monetary equivalents for proper behavior (and lost them if he was rude or impatient or didn’t finish a meal in 15 minutes). Only with these earnings could he buy certain activates: $3 of B.R.I. money bought a three-minute chat with another patient; $15 bought a phone call to a friend, $20 a call to his mother (“Isn’t that freedom of speech?” he once complained. “People on the outside don’t have to do that. Do they?”
The following article can be found by doing a Google search for Linda Cornelison:
ABUSE UNCOVERED IN DEATH AT BRI
Victimization of 19-year old Linda Cornelison called
“inhumane beyond all reason”
The Disabled Person’s Protection Commission (DPPC) and the Massachusetts Department of Mental Retardation (DMR) released the report of an extensive investigation into the death of a 19-year old woman who died in 1990 at the Judge Rotenberg Center (JRC, Formerly the Behavior Research Institute, or BRI). The investigation, which included interviews of 72 witnesses, review of hundreds of documents, and reports by four experts, concluded that JRC/BRI direct care staff, nursing staff, and administration, as well as several specific staff members, took actions that were “egregious” and “inhumane beyond all reason” and constituted not only violations of legal standards but violations of “universal standards of human decency.” Abuse and violations of DMR regulations were also found in the woman’s treatment by JRC/BRI prior to her death.
The New York Times June 27, 1987 pg 13:
Second Student Dies At Disputed School For Autism Sufferers
The New York Times December 31, 1985:
DISCIPLINE RULING AT AUTISM FACILITY
The New York Times June 5, 1986:
Judge Backs Discipline At Institute for Autistic
Why is it still open?
JRC has had several law suits, and Massachusetts has tried to shut them down, however JRC is still open and shocking people.
The parents of the students that go to this school are very desperate; they fight to keep the place open. In one video (http://www.judgerc.org/parents_journey.wmv – dead link) one student says, “I voluntarily asked if I could go on the GED.” She explains how she used to cut herself and that she was very aggressive. She says that since then she has been very successful. Another student says, “The GED program, I think that was the best thing that ever happened in my life.” So parents and students defend this place. It seems to me that some of these student’s that go to this JRC are so out of control they need some external force to control them. It is no doubt that these students need something to help them control themselves, but when resorting to corporal punishment, how far is to far?
Unlike many places JRC does not expel there students. The fact that JRC will simply take people with the most severe behavioral problems and not expel them is probably one big reason the school is praised and supported by some parents and students. JRC is definitely a place of last resort.
For more information on JRC you can check out these sites:
www.motherjones.com – A news web site
www.judgerc.org – Judge Rotenberg Center’s official site.
www.effectivetreatment.org – JRC’s web site about there use of aversive shock.