Practice has been condemned by disability rights groups and the ACLU
The Judge Rotenberg Centre (JRC) in Canton, Massachusetts, is the only school in the US to use the technique, which has been condemned by disability rights organisations, the American Civil Liberties Union, and the United Nations special rapporteur on torture.
The Massachusetts governor’s office sued to stop the practice in 2013. But Judge Katherine Fields of the Bristol County Probate and Family Court, ruled last week that the state failed to demonstrate that the procedure “does not conform to the accepted standard of care for treating individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities”.
The JRC is a special needs day and residential school that specialises in treating “emotionally disturbed” children and adults, according to its website. As part of their treatment, some students are given an electric shock from a Graduated Electronic Decelerator (GED) when they display an inappropriate behaviour, such as harming themselves or others.
“No one loves our children more than we do,” the parents group said. “We have tried and continue to try everything available to them, including positive behaviour therapies and psychotropic medications to help our children.”
“But as the court found – there is no evidence that any alternative treatment would be effective to treat our children and keep them safe.”
Backlash against the treatment began in 2012, when video surfaced of 18-year-old Andre McCollins receiving more than two dozen electrical shocks while tied to a bed at the centre in 2002.
The protesters wanted the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to push forward A proposed regulation banning the practice, which the agency said in 2016 posed an “unreasonable and substantial risk” to public health.
“They have been sitting on these regulations for more than two years,” said Philadelphia ADAPT organiser German Parodi in a press release, “and they can stop this atrocity now with the stroke of a pen.”
Massachusetts Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders must now decide whether to appeal Judge Fields’ decision, according to WCVB.
Photo Above: The Judge Rotenberg Center in Canton, Massachusetts will be allowed to continue administering electric shocks to students ( WCVB )