Sign Petition

Close The Judge Rotenberg Center: Zapping Children Is Torture!

1,047 Signatures Goal: 1,000

Target: United States State Department,United States Department of Justice, Governor of Massachusetts and State Legislators

Sponsored by: People First of New Hampshire / Institutions: Close Them! Committee

The Judge Rotenberg Educational Center (JRC, formerly known as the Behavior Research Institute) is a school that operates in Canton, Massachusetts for children who experience disabilities. The Judge Rotenberg Center needs to close immediately for the following reasons:

Children are SHOCKED Children are DEPRIVED food Children are RESTRAINED Children are SHACKLED Children are SECLUDED Children are TORTURED

The fact that the intentional infliction of pain to punish students for certain behaviors is called treatment - for children and adults with disabilities - does not render these practices acceptable, necessary or legal. At JRC, pain is the treatment. JRC practices a form of aversive therapy that is unique in the United States. JRC‘s practices are based on a theory of behaviorism that people who experience intellectual disabilities can be extinguished by an elaborate system of rewards and punishments for acceptable or unacceptable behavior. To implement this program, authorities at JRC intentionally inflict severe pain on children with disabilities entrusted to their care. The maltreatment of children and adolescents with disabilities at JRC constitutes both physical and psychological abuse, couched in the name of treatment. The treatment at JRC is punishment. Children are subject to electric shocks on the legs, arms, soles of their feet, finger tips and torsos – in many cases for years, and for some, a decade or more. Electric shocks are administered by a remote-controlled pack attached to a child‘s back called a Graduated Electronic Decelerator (GED). The shocks, which last 2 seconds each, are so strong as to cause red spots or blisters to the skin. Some students have received dozens – even hundreds – per day.

Additionally, children are shackled, restrained and secluded for months at a time. Social isolation and food deprivation as punishment is common. Mock and threatened stabbings – to forcibly elicit unacceptable behaviors which then result in electric shock punishments have been reported as well.

Behaviors deemed aggressive – getting out of a chair without permission – and behaviors referred to as minor and non-compliant behaviors – raising your hand without permission – are all punishable by electric shocks, restraints and other punishments.

The use of electric shock or long-term restraint would never be tolerated on individuals without disabilities. The discriminatory nature of JRC‘s practices becomes clear when they are compared to strikingly similar practices widely understood to constitute torture or ill-treatment.

Despite the overwhelming evidence of abuse at JRC, domestic remedies to end these abuses have failed. And in some cases, states have adopted regulations permitting the use of painful aversives, and the courts have upheld such regulations which undermine the protection of children and adolescents at JRC from cruel and inhuman treatment or torture.

No population is more vulnerable to abuse than children with disabilities detained in an institution. This population needs the strongest level of international protection to protect them against abuse. For this population, the use of electric shock, long-term restraint, and other aversives used by JRC constitute human rights violations that are even more serious than corporal punishment in a school, where children eventually go home to friends and family in the community.

Torture as treatment should be banned and prosecuted under criminal law. Shut down the Judge Rotenberg Center and free children from torture.


Torture not Treatment: Electric Shock and Long-Term Restraint in the United States on Children and Adults with Disabilities at the Judge Rotenberg Center

Urgent Appeal to the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture

Presented in 2010 by: Disability Rights International (formally Mental Disability Rights International)

Petition by People First of New Hampshire for the #1 goal - Institutions: Close Them!


People First of New Hampshire / Institutions: Close Them!


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June 16
Petition has reached 1000 signatures!
  • Danyl Strype
    Danyl Strype New Zealand, Dunedin
    Sep 16, 2016
    Sep 16, 2016
    Torturing children is never acceptable. Never! If the JRC engage in the practices described here, it must be shut down without delay, and those responsible must face a jury of their peers.
  • Frifoley baxter
    Frifoley baxter United States, Dublin
    Jun 29, 2016
    Jun 29, 2016
    Shock therapy for special education cruel and unusual punishment so it is unconstitutional, goes against education laws, and civilization. There are ways to protect ourselves from students who have violent outbursts and there are many therapies that are appropriate & hurting them cannot be part of a solution. Parents and judges are capable of abuse and it is up to the majority to intervene and protect & preserve the rights our exceptional needs citizens who are at risk for this abuse.
  • E A
    E A United States, Mansfield
    May 18, 2016
    May 18, 2016
    This center has proven for years that they cannot safely care for disabled people. They use outdated, barbaric electric shock devices and dangerous physical punishments as well as restraints for even talking without permission. They have failed to follow any meaningful health and safety standards. Their staff is given little to zero training on dealing with any type of disability. Some patients have even died due to their abuses and negligence. They ignore all professional advice and legal codes and should be shut down
  • Denise Harland
    Denise Harland United States, Somerville
    Apr 26, 2016
    Apr 26, 2016
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