Managing Editor's Note: By now you are likely familiar with the Abu School known as The Rotenberg Center in Massachusetts. Named for Judge Ernie Rotenberg (who used to play golf at my Dad's club when I was a kid and was suspected of using a foot wedge a la Judge Smails, I'm told) this school employs aversive conditioning - which means they use pain to stop behavior. It is the placement of last resort for families of children with severe, even dangerous behaviors. There is a petition on Change.org - we encourage you to leave a comment expressing your disgust that American children are treated worse than animals and terrorists. The verbiage from the petition is below. Click here to sign. Thank you.
Last month, in a trial against the Judge Rotenberg Center, lawyers for Andre McCollins played graphic video of his torture by contingent electric shock for seven hours in the name of treatment. Andre is from New York, as are the majority of the Judge Rotenberg Center’s residents (as many as 60%), where their tuition (over $250,000 per year per student) is largely paid by public funding from the state or school district.
New York Senator Martin Golden and Assemblywoman Joan Millman have filed legislation (S6294A-2011 and A9084A-2011) that would revise the social services law to prohibit any form of public funding to any school or program that uses aversive interventions, specifically naming contingent electric shock.
In the past, New York banned the use of contingent electric shock on any student from New York, but there is still a large student population at the JRC from New York supported by public funding.
If these two bills pass, this piece of legislation could potentially result in the permanent closure of the JRC. The majority of the JRC’s revenue comes directly from New York, and if New York permanently cuts funding to any facility, school, or program that uses aversives such as electric shock, which is explicitly named in the legislation.
We urge you, the New York Legislature, and the Governor of New York, to stand up for the rights of people with disabilities and end all funding for the JRC or any other facility that uses aversives. The JRC has come under repeated criticism from professionals in the field of developmental and intellectual disabilities, disability rights advocates including disabled people, and the families of people with disabilities. Yet the Massachusetts legislature has repeatedly failed to pass legislation banning the use of electric shocks.
Now you have the power to potentially close the JRC for good by eliminating the JRC’s primary source of funding. Students from New York may no longer be receiving electric shocks, but New York taxpayer dollars are supporting the JRC at over $250,000 each year for each student from New York, and that money goes directly to supporting the JRC’s use of contingent electric shock.
Stop the flow of taxpayer dollars to support torture, and vote for S6294A-2011 and A9084A-2011!