Their Brains Could Have Been Destroyed...Theoretically


I'm Gonna Be The Bestest Pilot In The Whole Galaxy
Jun 1, 2005

BOSTON (AP) - State officials are investigating complaints that at least two teenagers were given electric shock treatments at a residential center for people with special needs because someone telephoned fake orders to the staff.
Initial investigations showed that a former student at the Judge Rotenberg Education Center called in the orders on Aug. 26, Cindy Campbell, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Early Education and Care, said Monday. Center officials reported the incident the following day, she said.

"There is still an ongoing criminal investigation," said the school's senior counsel, Ernest Corrigan. "We are working very closely with investigators."

The state's Disabled Persons Protection Committee is investigating a complaint that a third resident of the center—an adult—also received unnecessary shock treatments after the call, said Nancy Alterio, the committee's executive director.

The complaints have been referred to the state police and the Norfolk District Attorney's Office, Alterio said.

The school treats people with a wide variety of behavior problems, including autistic-like students who have aggressive, self-injurious or destructive behaviors and high-functioning students with psychiatric or emotional problems, according to a description on its Web site.

The Department of Early Education and Care said the call allegedly came from someone claiming to be on the staff of Dr. Matthew Israel, the psychologist who founded the school.

Campbell said the school has submitted a corrective action plan that her agency is reviewing.

The center is believed to be the only school in the nation that uses two-second skin-shock punishments to change destructive behavior. The center said Monday the treatments are used in a minority of cases as part of overall therapy for "very deeply emotionally disturbed young adults."

The procedures are applied "only after obtaining prior parental, medical, psychiatric, human rights, peer review and individual approval from a Massachusetts Probate Court," Corrigan said.

The center has survived two attempts by the state to close it over allegations that its unorthodox methods amount to abuse.