2023 Update

This is a personal blog started in 2011. It is no longer active, updated, or maintained. Unfortunately, it appears that I've also irreparably broken some of the links by accident.

11 April 2012

End the torture. Make this go viral.

Trigger Warning:
Torture and abuse on video.


For decades, the Judge Rotenberg Center in Canton, Massachusetts has been torturing and abusing people with disabilities in the name of treatment. Residents are subject to electric shocks, food deprivation, prolonged restraint and seclusion, and forced witness of these same tactics used against other residents.

This video of Andre McCollins, then-eighteen, who has behavioral and mental health issues, has been sealed by the courts for the last eight years. Yesterday, it played in open court during his trial against the Judge Rotenberg Center.

Make this go viral.

Download the video to your hard drives; upload it elsewhere; share the links.

The public must see what the Judge Rotenberg Center is doing. Their experts claimed that the public would not understand the content of this video without "proper context." There is no context that justifies the use of torture against anybody ever. The public has not merely a right but a responsibility to watch this video and share it everywhere.

The majority of the Judge Rotenberg Center's residents come from New York, which has banned the use of electric shock on its residents. Massachusetts passed regulations last year that prevent the use of the electric shocks on any new admitted resident. But the Judge Rotenberg Center has survived decades of attempted legislative efforts to ban the shocks completely, and it is still fighting every small step taken to end its practices of torture and abuse.

This is not electrostatic therapy that has been scientifically proven to help with symptoms of depression, bipolar disorder, and related disorders.

This is not a "treatment" with any long term efficacy. Some of the residents at the JRC have been there for over ten years, and they still have the same behavioral problems as when they entered.

This is not "the only treatment that works." The JRC likes to make this claim, and it is wrong. There are programs at other institutions across the country that serve the same population with the same challenging behaviors -- self-injurious and destructive -- that do not use torture and abuse and that do have proven long-term efficacy in reducing and eliminating dangerous behavior.

This is torture and abuse.

Public outcry is often the impetus for change. If millions of people demand the closure of the JRC, can their millions of dollars in lawyers and lobbyists stand up to public outrage?

Make this go viral.


  1. I'm all for awareness of this awful place, but I feel I need somewhere to direct people to take action. Just sharing this awful truth isn't enough. Online petitions aren't enough. We need to invoke government action. Maybe, I'll do some more research and find out who to write to, who to call, who to go to to get this place closed down, and labeled as illegal. It should be already, since we're not even allowed to treat terror suspects this way.

    1. I'm not at my computer at the moment, but I can tell you exactly who to write and call --

      Joint Committee on Children, Families, and Persons with Disabilities

      House co-Chair State Rep. Kay Khan

      I don't remember the Senate co-chair off the top of my head, but the page at my other website, www.autismeducationproject.org has more information about the specific legislation currently before the Massachusetts legislature, including bill numbers.

    2. Thanks...was coming back to ask the same question. There are two online petitions as well:



    3. Please contact the members of the Massachusetts Joint Committee on Children, Families, and Persons with Disabilities. There are four bills currently assigned to that committee that target the JRC. Read more about the bills (and see links to their full text) here: http://www.autismeducationproject.org/judge-rotenberg-center.html

      The Senate Chair is Michael Rodrigues

      The House Chair is Kay Khan

      Call and email and let the members of the Committee know that you support S. 49, S. 50, S. 51, and H. 77. Urge them to report those bills favorably from committee.

  2. Thank you for this. It was excruciating to watch. Nauseating. And I have shared it on my FB page. I had NO idea the magnitude of horrors these students endure.

  3. I´m terrified Lydia...thanks for sharing this, I´ll help to make this viral

  4. Although the Judge Rotenberg Center is the only facility in the United States (maybe the world) to shock children as a punishment, abuse of this sort is extremely common in residential "treatment" centers for "troubled" teens. In fact the Government Accountability Office (GAO) did a number of reports on the issue (sources will be given). They had this and many other horrifying things to say:

    1. GAO found thousands of allegations of abuse…GAO could not identify a more concrete number of allegations because it could not locate a single Web site, federal agency, or other entity that collects comprehensive nationwide data.
    2. During 2005 alone, 33 states reported 1,619 staff members involved in incidents of abuse in residential programs...[no] other entity ... collects comprehensive nationwide data.
    GAO Investigation Documents/Video:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wdhsk-T6krs (VIDEO of testimony to US Congress).

    One can, of course, extrapolate that if nobody was keeping track on a national level and that oversight varies widely from State to State (Missouri for example has no licensing, accreditation or approval requirements for private schools) that there are many more perpetrators, particularly in the 17 States not represented in the report. Furthermore, one may easily assume that each staff member, on average, was involved in more than one case of abuse. Finally, the news reports of abusive facilities are abundant, though often ignored and rarely making the national press. I will throw just a handful out there, in a moment.

    Study: DOJ says that 12% of inmates in juvenile detention report sexual abuse, mostly by staff (9,000 minors interviewed). In some facilities as many as 30% report being raped.

    Finally, a few resources on individual schools:
    Articles Concerning Mt. Bachelor Academy/Other Facilities (Maia Szalavitz):

    PBS Montana: Who's Watching the Kids?

    St. John's military Academy (branded students, broken legs, shattered eye socket):

    Family First Boot Camp (Warning: disturbing videos included):

  5. In general, the usefulness and significance is overwhelming. Very much thanks again and good luck and keep up the great work!


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