FDA Bans the use of Electroshock Devices at the Judge Rotenberg Center

NASW-NYS applauds the U.S. Food and Drug Administration ruling to ban electroshock devices used at the Judge Rotenberg Center ending decades of torture and barbaric practice committed against some of our Nation’s most vulnerable populations.

In January, the NYS Chapter Advocacy & Government Relations Committee identified the support of Assembly Bill A1368 as one of our top legislative initiatives, with the primary purpose “to prohibit public funding to facilities providing aversive interventions, including but not limited to electric shock therapy”. In the opinion of the Chapter, aversive interventions are cruel, inhumane, and counter to social work values, and as such we have advocated for the elimination of referrals to the Judge Rotenberg Educational Center (JRC) or any other facility engaging in aversive treatment.

While this decision is an encouraging victory, we are cautious to celebrate. The JRC will attempt to delay or block implementation of the ban, and they are still permitted to use other forms of abuse thinly veiled as ‘aversive therapy’ as a method to punish and control the behavior of their residents. With this in mind, NASW-NYS met with multiple legislators today, and within the last week, to discuss how critical it is to continue to fight for the passing of A1368 and cease this State funded and endorsed suffering.

Ultimately, the true champions of this landmark decision are the survivors and families of the residents of the JRC that without their courage, testimonies, evidence, and decades of advocacy, this day would have never come. NASW-NYS is honored to support their efforts and will continue to fight for the dismantling of systems that allow, ignore, and perpetrate these unconscionable injustices.

We call on our members, and all 59,178 social workers across NYS, to join us in our advocacy for the passing of Bill A1368, standing with us firmly on the foundation of human rights and our Code of Ethics.

NASW-NYS would like to acknowledge and commend bill sponsors Hon. Victor M. PichardoAnthony D’UrsoAssembly Member Richard GottfriedAssemblymember Michael A. Blake, and Assemblywoman Carmen E. Arroyo, for amplifying the voices of the survivors, and for their commitment to human dignity for all New Yorkers.

To read more:

Washington Post: A school used electric shocks to control disabled students’ behavior for nearly 30 years. Now the FDA has banned it.

ProPublica: New York City Sends $30 Million a Year to School With History of Giving Kids Electric Shocks