Main Content

#StopTheShock

What’s happening at the Judge Rotenberg Center?

The Judge Rotenberg Center (JRC) is an institution in Massachusetts for children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD), mental health disabilities, and learning disabilities, including many autistic people. The people held at the JRC are disproportionately people of color. The Judge Rotenberg Center tortures some of the people living there using an electric shock device called a Gradual Electronic Decelerator (GED). Children and adults at the JRC are forced to wear the GED on their bodies. Using a remote control, someone else can use the GED to give an electric shock to the person wearing it. The JRC uses the GED as an “aversive:” they use the pain of the electric shock to punish people for doing certain things.

To learn more about the JRC, click here. Scroll down to learn what YOU can do to #StopTheShock.

The FDA has the power to stop this torture

Because of the way the GED has hurt people, the United Nations put out a report calling the use of the GED “torture”. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the government organization in the United States that decides what kinds of medical treatments can be used on people, even put out their own report 4 years ago that said the GED should be banned.  

But they still haven’t put the ban into action.

Why now?

On April 24, 2014, the FDA held a hearing that led them to conclude that there is no way to use the GED without significant harm, and recommend a ban. Since then, they have drafted final regulations which would ban the use of electric shock devices as aversives. But as the fourth anniversary of the 2014 hearing approaches, the FDA still has not released the regulations. We need your help to show them that our community will not stand for this.

Here's how you can #StopTheShock
  • Call the office of Jeffrey Shuren, Director of the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health at (301) 796-5900, and ask the FDA to release the regulation. We’re organizingcall-in days when the disability community can speak out together. Just like in the past, we’ll also be sharing tips, scripts, and other ways to act if your disability makes calling difficult. The next call-in day is May 4th. You can use this script:

My name is [NAME] and I am from [City, State]. I’m calling on the FDA to ban the GED shock devices used at the Judge Rotenberg Center. The FDA has had a final rule to ban these devices ready since 2016. The rule has not been released, but CDRH has the power to make it happen. Every day, disabled people are being tortured with these devices. Dr. Shuren needs to immediately release the rule banning the GED. We’ve waited long enough.
  • Email Director Shuren at Jeff.Shuren@FDA.hhs.gov, and CC: the FDA at DICE@FDA.hhs.gov. Use the subject line  Judge Rotenberg Center . You can use the same script you did while calling.
  • Sign the petition to have the FDA release a regulation against the use of GED.
  • Spread the word on social media using the hashtag #StopTheShock.
The UN condemned the JRC's use of electric shock
 devices as torture. It's time for the FDA to ban
 these devices. #StopTheShock Click To Tweet

Take the fight to the FDA on social media by tweeting at CDRH Director Shuren and the agency directly! We have tweets ready to use:

Expand to see more tweets to CDRH Director Shuren
You’ve heard from experts that GED electric shock devices don’t help disabled people. You’ve reported that there is no way to use them without serious harm. You’ve written a regulation banning them. @FDADeviceInfo, there’s only one thing left for the @US_FDA to do: #StopTheShock.

Click to tweet this!

We’ve heard from experts, from survivors, from the UN, and from @US_FDA itself: electric shocks used at the Judge Rotenberg Center aren’t treatment, they’re torture. We demand @FDADeviceInfo release the FDA’s rule banning the use of GED shock devices. #StopTheShock

Click to tweet this!

The @US_FDA has the power to end electric shock torture at the Judge Rotenberg Center — but we need YOUR HELP to hold them accountable. Join us in calling on CDRH Director Shuren @FDADeviceInfo to #StopTheShock! https://tinyurl.com/stoptheshock

Click to tweet this!

I stand with @autselfadvocacy and the disability community to demand a ban on the electric shock devices used at the Judge Rotenberg Center. @US_FDA, these devices are torture, not treatment – the CDRH @FDADeviceInfo must act now to #StopTheShock!

Click to tweet this!

Disabled people at the Judge Rotenberg Center are being tortured with electric shocks as a punishment for everything from stimming to standing up. Director Shuren @FDADeviceInfo, the @US_FDA can end this torture – you have the power to #StopTheShock once and for all.

Click to tweet this!

It’s been nearly 4 years since the @US_FDA recommended banning the dangerous and harmful shock devices used at the Judge Rotenberg Center. We call on the CDRH @FDADeviceInfo to release the regulations that can #StopTheShock.

Click to tweet this!

After a 2014 hearing, @US_FDA found that shock devices used at the JRC cause lasting harm to physical and mental health. 4 years later, the CDRH @FDADeviceInfo hasn’t released regulations that would ban the devices & end the torture. Our community can’t wait — #StopTheShock!

Click to tweet this!

The @US_FDA found that shock devices used at the Judge Rotenberg Center can’t be used without serious harm. That’s why in 2016, they wrote a regulation that would ban these devices — but they never put the reg into effect. The CDRH @FDADeviceInfo must #StopTheShock!

Click to tweet this!

Factsheet & Shareable Images

thumbnail of #StopTheShock factsheet

Download Factsheet PDF here

Image #1: Attention!
[Image description: An illustration of a construction site-style metal warning sign. At the top, white text on a red background reads: ATTENTION! Below that is large text which reads: "PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES ARE BEING TORTURED AT THE JRC." Next to the text is a warning symbol depicting a person being electrocuted against a yellow triangle background. Below the warning symbol is text reading #StopTheShock.]

Right-click on the image and click “Save image as…” to save it to your computer. When sharing on social media, you can include this image description:

[Image description: An illustration of a construction site-style metal warning sign. At the top, white text on a red background reads: ATTENTION! Below that is large text which reads: “PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES ARE BEING TORTURED AT THE JRC.” Next to the text is a warning symbol depicting a person being electrocuted against a yellow triangle background. Below the warning symbol is text reading #StopTheShock.]
Image #2: FDA Warning

[Image description: Text styled to look similar to a medication warning label. The text reads: FDA WARNING: The use of electric shock devices can cause: burns, tissue damage, neuropathy, catatonia, anxiety, depression, and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. These devices are being used on people with disabilities at the Judge Rotenberg Center. The FDA has the power to ban these devices—the time has come for them to finally act and #StopTheShock. Source: https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2016/04/25/2016-09433/banned-devices-proposal-to-ban-electrical-stimulation-devices-used-to-treat-self-injurious-or]

Right-click on the image and click “Save image as…” to save it to your computer. When sharing on social media, you can include this image description:

[Image description: Text styled to look similar to a warning label. The text reads:
FDA WARNING:
The use of electric shock devices can cause: burns, tissue damage, neuropathy, catatonia, anxiety, depression, and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

These devices are being used on people with disabilities at the Judge Rotenberg Center.

The FDA has the power to ban these devices—the time has come for them to finally act and #StopTheShock.

Source: https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2016/04/25/2016-09433/banned-devices-proposal-to-ban-electrical-stimulation-devices-used-to-treat-self-injurious-or]

Skip to top

More information