Help Tell Gemino to Stop Financing the Torture of Students with Disabilities

For the past 30 years, the Judge Rotenberg Center has starved its students, restrained them, and otherwise traumatized them in the name of behavior control. What has caught the most public attention is their use of electroshock “treatments”. This is purportedly used only to “control” serious self-injuring behavior. But once it is approved for a particular student, typically its use expands rapidly to cover many other things. Parents allow this because many genuinely believe that their children have no other hope. But although some JRC parents are their strongest advocates, there are also many parents of former JRC students who have joined dozens of disability rights advocacy organizations in trying to shut down the JRC.

You can find more information about JRC’s treatment of its students at http://www.autistichoya.com/p/judge-rotenberg-center-resources.html. This includes links to YouTube videos and news coverage.

The latest news is that the Gemino Healthcare Finance has agreed to fund the JRC to the tune of $7 million USD. This despite the fact that even the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture has called upon the US government to put an end to the use of electroshock treatment at the JRC.

Not surprisingly, the Autistic Self Advocacy Network (many of JRC’s students have autism) objects. [UPDATED EDIT follows:]  As of 8pm April 10, an email from the Autistic Self Advocacy Network has now announced that Gemino is blocking Change.org’s server so that no emails can be sent from the change.org petition they had started to Gemino. They now ask that people send an email directly to Gemino’s decision makers, whose email addresses follow below:

tom.schneider@gemino.com, mike.gervais@gemino.com, mark.roscioli@gemino.com, rob.misener@gemino.com, stacy.allen@gemino.com, joni.akins@gemino.com

You can either write your own letter and/or copy/paste ASAN’s original petition text into the body of your email, I provide it below for your convenience:

To:
Joni Akins, Marketing Coordinator, Gemino Healthcare Finance
Tom Schneider, Chief Operating Officer, Gemino Healthcare Finance
Mike Gervais, Chief Executive Officer, Gemino Healthcare Finance
Mark Roscioli, Chief Financial Officer, Gemino Healthcare Finance
Rob Misener, Director, Gemino Healthcare Finance
Stacy Allen, Executive Vice President, Portfolio Management & Operations, Gemino Healthcare Finance
Gemino Healthcare Finance
Disability rights advocates were concerned to read that Gemino Healthcare Finance has provided a $7 million revolving line of credit to the Judge Rotenberg Educational Center, Inc., better known as the JRC. The JRC is widely known in the disability and human rights community as the only institution in the United States that uses painful electric shock “aversive” as a punishment for disabled students, as well as prolonged restraint and seclusion, and food and sleep deprivation. The JRC’s widely documented, controversial philosophy of “treatment” for people with developmental, intellectual, and psychiatric disabilities dictates that pain and punishment should be used to change unwanted (and sometimes simply inconvenient) behavior.In 2012, a case against the JRC brought by the mother of a former student went to trial in Massachusetts. During testimony, the plaintiffs showed surveillance video of Andre McCollins receiving thirty-one shocks over a period of seven hours while restrained face-down, all for the offense of not wanting to take off his jacket. Most of the subsequent shocks were for tensing up or screaming. Earlier, the JRC’s founder and executive director Matthew Israel was forced to resign in a plea agreement for destroying evidence against court orders after an incident in 2007 when a prank call led to staff shocking two students 77 and 29 times respectively over a period of three hours.

Dozens of international disability rights organizations, as well as both the previous and current U.N. Special Rapporteurs on Torture, have condemned the JRC’s practices as torture. The U.S. Department of Justice’s civil rights division has been investigating the JRC for violating the rights of their students. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has warned the JRC for using unapproved devices. Massachusetts’s Department of Developmental Services banned the use of the GED electric shock device on any students admitted after September 2011. In December 2012, U.S. Centers for Medicaid & Medicare Services sent the Massachusetts state government a letter prohibiting any federal Medicaid funds from going to any person living in a facility using electric shock aversives, even if that person isn’t being shocked. In February 2013, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick instructed the attorney general to file a motion to end the thirty-year-old court order that the JRC has been using to legally justify their use of “aversives.” The New York State Education Department, which issued a scathing report in 2006, issued another letter in March 2013 prohibiting the use of the GED electric shock devices on any New York state student.

Furthermore, while there is extant empirical evidence in support of alternative forms of treatment and intervention for severe behavioral problems that do not use painful aversives, the JRC has never published any peer-reviewed, randomized controlled trial demonstrating any long-term effectiveness, let alone superiority, of their skin shock “treatment.” The JRC’s model of “treatment” bears no support in contemporary scientific literature, though it is similar to the methods used in abusive environments that tend to develop in unscrupulous “troubled teen programs,” prisons, and other coercive situations.

There is no medical or moral reason that the JRC should be permitted to continue its practices, but Gemino’s decision to provide significant financial support for the JRC reflects a lack of interest in the wellbeing of disabled people. The JRC’s mission is the eradication of any undesirable behavior or characteristic from the disabled people residing in the institution through the brutal use of force, pain, and fear.

Gemino’s financial support of the JRC will only enable the institution to devastate more lives and commit appalling abuse against the disabled people entrusted to its “care.” There are many worthwhile organizations and service provision agencies that support disabled people, including those with the most significant disabilities, without the use of violence and abuse. We urge Gemino to reconsider and terminate your relationship with the JRC.

Sincerely,
[Your name]

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2 thoughts on “Help Tell Gemino to Stop Financing the Torture of Students with Disabilities

  1. Pingback: Letters to FDA needed – End Electric Shock at Judge Rotenberg! | ReunifyGally

  2. It’s been 5 YEARS since the UN declared JRC methods as Torture and demanded they immediately cease punishing and experimenting on disabled children. FIVE Years. Yet it continues, unabated. These Sadists have no fear of the Law, CPS, the Police, or International outcry. No one will stop them, so they don’t give a damn. These kids are as young as 3 years old! Many cannot even talk. Most are severely developmentally delayed. They are starved, taped into sacks for hours, shocked day and night, never knowing kindness, compassion or love. Poor poor babies!!

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