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April 2014



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The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is considering an important action that would ban the use of devices that use electric shock for behavior modification. This action has the potential to close the Judge Rotenberg Center, an institution in Massachusetts  which uses contingent electric shocks as a method of behavioral control. 


The United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture has declared the use of electric shock as torture, and the U.S. Department of Justice initiated a civil rights investigation into the JRC’s practices. The JRC’s founder, Matthew Israel, was forced to resign after facing charges for destroying video evidence of abuses of the GED electric shock device. Contrary to the JRC’s claims, not only do students receive electric shocks for relatively minor behaviors such as standing up from a desk or swearing as well as for potentially dangerous behaviors, but severe self-injurious and destructive behaviors can be successfully treated using methods other than abuse and torture. In legislative hearings each year on legislation that would ban the shocks, professionals with expertise in developmental and intellectual disabilities testify about the ineffectiveness of electric shock and the myriad options for addressing problematic behavior other than electric shocking. There are no scientific, peer-reviewed studies that show any long-term efficacy of electric shock as a treatment, but there are documented cases of former JRC students receiving diagnoses of post-traumatic stress disorder after leaving the JRC.

We need to assure the FDA receives as much written testimony as possible regarding this issue. The deadline for submitting statements is this Monday, April 14th.

Your written statement can be any length and can contain any information you want – your opinion about the use of electric shock for behavior modification, other ways of supporting people who have dangerous or difficult behaviors, issues of ethics and rights, research, etc. All comments are important and welcome.

Comments can be received on or before April 14th, and can be submitted electronically by April 14th here.

Click on the link above and you will receive a form. You can type (or copy and paste) your statement there or upload a document. You can choose to give contact information or to submit anonymously.

Your statement must be received by April 14th.

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