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Report: JRC Staff Asked No Questions While Zapping Youths During Prank Calls
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
December 19, 2007

STOUGHTON, MASSACHUSETTS--Staff members at a facility run by the Judge Rotenberg Educational Center zapped three young residents dozens of times with electric shock devices in response to a prank call.

That's one conclusion made in a report released Tuesday by the Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care, which licenses JRC and other residential facilities housing people with disabilities.

According to the report, which was published on the Arc of Massachusetts website, staff at the home received a series of phone calls from a person who identified himself as a quality control monitor. On his orders, the staff woke the three residents in the early morning hours of August 26, then delivered shocks 77 times to one resident and 29 times to another. They were told that the two-second skin shocks, which have been described as a "hard pinch" or a "bee sting", were being given because of behaviors made earlier in the evening. The caller did not say what the alleged behaviors were, and the staff did not further ask why the punishments were to be given.

The staff later realized that the calls were part of a hoax. It turned out that the caller was a former resident who had run away from JRC and knew the residents and the layout of the building.

Investigators also learned that one resident was restrained to a 4-point board during the shocks -- even though this "movement limitation" had not been approved -- and that staff had failed to seek treatment for one of the residents for first-degree burns made by the electrodes used to zap him.

JRC officials said seven staff members involved in the incident have since been fired.

The report prompted the office of Washington, DC Mayor Adrian Fenty to announce that the nine DC school children currently housed at JRC would be removed within the next 90 days.

Education officials in New York, which sends the most students to JRC, have called on the facility to stop using electric shocks to change behavior.

JRC, known previously as the Behavior Research Institute, is believed to be the only facility in the country allowed to inflict pain and discomfort to punish children and youths with disabilities. It houses about 250 students with intellectual, psychiatric and other disabilities -- most of which are sent by school districts in other states and the District of Columbia.

While officials and lawmakers in Massachusetts have tried to shut down JRC, it enjoys the support of parents and family members of those housed there.

"Rotenberg group home under scrutiny" (Boston Globe)
"Aide: Kids will leave shock-therapy clinic" (Examiner)
"Judge Rotenberg Center -- Facility Uses Electric Shock To Change Behavior" (Inclusion Daily Express Archives)

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