Action Alert! #StopTheShock and Torture of People with Disabilities

April 19, 2018

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, who 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.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is coming up on 2 years of failing to release a rule that would end the use of the GED. The JRC is the only facility in the US that uses this device, which the United Nations has called a form of torture. An FDA panel admitted that the devices were not effective in stopping people from hurting themselves and they actively caused physical and emotional harm.

The FDA created a rule that would end the use of GED, but it has not been released. Every day they wait, people with disabilities at the JRC face torture for everything from stimming (self-stimulatory behavior, the repetition of physical movements, sounds, or repetitive movement of objects) to refusing to take off their coats. The time to hold the FDA accountable isn’t in 2 more years – it is right now!


Take Action

Call-In Day to #StopTheShock at the JRC
May 4, 2018


The Autistic Self Advocacy Network is coordinating a national call-in day on May 4 to demand that the FDA and Dr. Jeffrey Shuren, Director of the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health (CDRH) release the regulation to ban the GED. Call the office of Director Shuren at (301) 796-5900 and ask the FDA to release the regulation ending the use of the Gradual Electronic Decelerator (GED).

Sample Call 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.


Contact FDA Director Shuren

Use the widget below to send an email, tweet, and Facebook post directly to Director Shuren to demand he release the regulations to ban the use of electric shock devices.

Sign the Petition

Sign the petition to have the FDA release the regulation against the use of GED.


Spread the word on social media

Spread the word on social media using the hashtag #StopTheShock. Encourage your network to visit the Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN) #StopTheShock web page to learn more and take action. The ASAN web page also includes sample social media posts and graphics.

[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:]




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This alert was developed with content from the Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN).

[Updated May 3, 2018]

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