Do you remember the Autistic boy inside the bag?
If you do, you’ll be nauseated by what you’re about to hear. Andre McCollins, a teenager with a disability, was asked to take off his jacket by staff at the Judge Rotenberg Center. When he refused, staff electric shocked him and he tried to hide under a table. They dragged him out and tied him face-down to a restraint board where he was kept for seven hours without a break, and shocked a total of thirty-one times. All but one of those electric shocks were for tensing up or screaming. He was hospitalized with acute post-traumatic stress, and his mother couldn’t even use a cell phone or TV remote around him, because they look exactly like the shock devices staff use. Another victim of the JRC was a girl with cerebral palsy who was also nearly blind. She was electric shocked for reaching for a staff member’s hand. The Judge Rotenberg Center in Canton, Massachusetts is a residential facility for children and adults with disabilities, including developmental, intellectual, and mental disabilities. They claim to “save lives” with the electric shocks, but it doesn’t take an expert to realize that what the JRC really does is torture in the name of treatment. Not one other institution or program in the United States uses electric shock aversives. I am Autistic, and watching the video of Andre’s torture that aired in court last month terrified me, because I know that the people in the JRC are people like me — people with disabilities — and it’s the fact that they have disabilities that’s being used as an excuse for torture and abuse. I know one woman who considered sending her Autistic son to the JRC, and I have an adult Autistic friend who was nearly sent to the JRC. I’m horrified that the JRC is still in operation, especially because I live in the state where the JRC operates, and I want to see the JRC closed. What happened to Chris Baker in Kentucky is a result of the same attitudes that allow the JRC to continue its operations — the attitude that people with disabilities like Chris, Andre, and me are inherently broken, diseased, or defective, and that it’s therefore permissible to treat us in ways that wouldn’t be legal or acceptable to treat anyone without a disability. Former JRC staff member Gregory Miller, who witnessed their techniques in person, has written a petition demanding the end of the electric shocks at the JRC. If you’re like me and reading this sickened you, then take a look at the video of Andre’s torture (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aAj9W0ntUMI) and then sign the petition (http://www.change.org/petitions/the-ma-state-senate-please-stop-painful-electric-shocks-on-students-at-jrc-in-massachusetts) to demand an end to the torture. Greg is fighting the same fight that I am — the fight to ensure RESPECT for all people with disabilities, especially in the name of treatment, therapy, or intervention. Thank you, Blessings and peace, Lydia