Why Students Praise the Judge Rotenberg Center


If I don’t look directly at people, and don’t listen to what words they are saying, I can tell a lot about their body language and tone of voice. So one thing I did when watching an interesting set of videos from the Judge Rotenberg Center, was look slightly away from the video and not bother to turn on language comprehension. The following is what I saw.

There were two people near each other, a woman on the left and a man on the right. When one was talking, the other was backing them up through movement. Their movements were coordinated with each other and sort of bouncing off and reflecting each other all the time.

The movements of the woman were quite often something I don’t know all the words for but know when I see it. There were some incongruous movements in there that were presumably to mask something or other. The rest of the movements and noises she was making were quite often to convey a sense of “I’m superior to these students, they are doing all these, sort of silly kid things, and I am laughing in exasperated tired adultness as they go through all these different things.” This is a knowing sort of movement, designed to convey a connection to the person watching it, sort of like, “We all know what this is like,” inviting the viewer to join in the knowingness.

The man moved in more subtle ways, but they conveyed precision and confidence, very much the way many psychiatrists or scientists move. He moved in such a way as to say, “We know what we’re doing, we do not even need to be forceful in arguing anything, because we know exactly what we’re doing.” His voice reminded me strongly of something a friend calls the “male human services accent,” and also conveyed a great deal of precision in the way that he pronounced words. Sometimes it acquired condescending tones, or his equivalent of the woman’s “knowing” tones.

The overall effect is, “We know what we’re doing, even you ought to know what we’re talking about a good deal of the time, and we agree with each other totally on this stuff, seen it all before. We’re not only in control, but it is only natural that we are in control.”

What video am I talking about? It’s called Why Students Complain To Families. It sets forth a set of expectations in parents for the meaning of their children’s complaints about the Judge Rotenberg Center, and asks parents to collude in the dismissal of complaints and the shaping of their children’s behavior to include fewer complaints about the JRC and more compliments. The two professionals in the video are Dr. Timothy Paisey and Dr. Patricia Rivera.

The video is broken up into sections: Introduction, Program Structure, Complaints chapter 1: the Structure, Complaints chapter 2: the Treatment, Complaints chapter 3: the Education, Complaints chapter 4: the Staff, Complaints chapter 5: the Program, Complaints chapter 6: My Things, Complaints chapter 7: Professional Staff, Complaints chapter 8: the Food, and Complaints chapter 9: Safety. Each section details precisely why parents are not supposed to worry about the complaints, and then describes ways parents can react to the complaints.

Some quotes throughout the video on this topic:

From the introduction:

Young people often make complaints about the structure of their school no matter what environment they’re in. The more structure and consistency that the school provides, the more the students tend to complain. (Dr. Rivera)

They argue that children, possibly emotionally disturbed children in particular, are natural complainers, and would complain no matter where they were. This is meant to bring up images of children at school complaining about the cafeteria food, or complaining about reasonable rules and limits set on their behavior. It’s meant to evoke memories in parents of their children doing these things, and to tie those memories to anything the children might say about the Judge Rotenberg Center.

From Program Structure:

And as many parents can attest, most students do not like rules. (Dr. Rivera)

Of course as a parent you may have experienced that yourself, in terms of trying to impose rules or structure. (Dr. Paisey)

These make the parents identify with the professionals at the JRC.

From Chapter 1:

In some ways, if the student is complaining about the structure, and complaining about the intensity of the program, they are complaining about the very things that are effective treatment for them. (Dr. Paisey)

Exactly. Or else they wouldn’t be here. (Dr. Rivera)

Absolutely. (Dr. Paisey)

This makes it sound as if any complaints are because of the student’s lack of understanding of what is good for them.

From Chapter 5:

Some other concerns that we come across quite frequently involve general complaints about the program. Students will complain that they are physically held or restrained for no reason, and they will claim that they didn’t do anything to justify or provoke this. They will claim quite often that their behavior contracts were broken, also for no reason, or for no good reason. (Dr. Paisey)

And usually the problem is that the students don’t connect their own behavior with the consequences or structure of the program that has been put in place for them. (Dr. Paisey)

And that’s where you hear the complaint of “Staff are too strict” or “I was restrained for no reason,” because they’re not initially making that connection. (Dr. Rivera)

Of course, being restrained and otherwise punished for no reason, and then having it written up otherwise, is an incredibly common experience in institutions. It is convenient for them to have such a facile explanation for the whole thing.

From Chapter 8

Now young people complain about food all the time, in fact young people complain all the time in my experience, about everything. (Dr. Paisey)

This is true. (Dr. Rivera)

So if they weren’t at JRC, they’d probably be complaining about different things in different places… (Dr. Paisey)

Actually, the JRC imposes a strict diet on the “students”, regardless of their prior dietary preferences, and while it allows “other food” sometimes (sometimes contingent on good behavior), this is still an unreasonable restriction.

Chapter 9:

Nonetheless we will have students who do report to families that they are going crazy, or that they are going to hurt themselves, or they’re gonna run away, or they will make claims that staff abuse them, or they will say that they have marks on their bodies as a result of a restraint procedure. And they will sometimes claim that they were hurt by other people on purpose. (Dr. Paisey)

Because things like this happen in every institution I’ve seen.

And here is the big one, the one that explains everything:

If you have a telephone call or a face to face meeting during a visit with your son or daughter and they make some complaint, the first thing to do, I would suggest is to ask yourself, “Is this one of the complaints mentioned on that video I saw?” And then perhaps that will guide you towards the next step, which might be to listen briefly to the complaint. If you can, try to minimize your reaction to it. You can ask for specific details, specific contents, briefly. And then move on. Move on to something more appropriate and positive. If you think you need more information, contact the case manager. (Dr. Paisey)

See, the first thing to do is see if the complaint is mentioned on this video. If it is, then obviously it’s not a valid complaint, or something.

But in the course of the conversation with your son or daughter, try to move on. The reason is because the attention we give to what our children say is itself a reward, it reinforces that kind of behavior. If we’d like to hear more complaining, then all we have to do is pay attention to complaining. If we’d like to hear more good news and positive reports, then what we could do, is to pay a limited amount of attention to complaining, and then move on, and ask “What has happened that is appropriate and positive?” And in fact, if you start by attending to the complaint, and then move on to the more positive information, over time, perhaps the attention to the complaint that’s less, and the attention to the positive information that’s more, and you can teach your son or daughter to pay more appropriate attention and emphasis to reporting positive news. (Dr. Paisey)

That is a description of using behavior modification to get students to say good things about the Judge Rotenberg Center. In other words, a form of brainwashing.

So what we’d like to do is to actually ask your help, in assisting us to teach these students how to do this. (Dr. Rivera)

And that makes parents feel as if they are doing something helpful for brainwashing their children.

We would encourage limited attention to complaints. We would encourage you to make a note of complaints. If you detect a pattern in the complaints, share that information with the student’s case manager, because then, if we need to, we could even adjust his or her program to take account of this. Those are some active ways in which families can become more involved in treatment and some active ways in which the student will not be able to manipulate others to cause the treatment that they truly need to stop. (Dr. Paisey)

Here, it talks about how they can adjust the student’s “program” to deal with the complaints. Presumably not to stop the bad things going on, but to stop the complaints, of course.

So, as you can see, one reason that students praise the Judge Rotenberg Center is that they have been, literally, systematically trained to say positive and not negative things about the place. (I have experienced similar training, it’s nothing to take lightly.)


About Mel Baggs

Hufflepuff. Came from the redwoods, which tell me who I am and where I belong in the world. I relate to objects as if they are alive, but as things with identities and properties all of their own, not as something human-like. Culturally I'm from a California Okie background. Crochet or otherwise create constantly, write poetry and paint when I can. Proud member of the developmental disability self-advocacy movement. I care a lot more about being a human being than I care about what categories I fit into.

35 responses »

  1. It seems like classic brainwashing – except for the parents moreso than the kids. It is like the parents are being manipulated by the “cult” into devoting their allegiance to the cult leaders and program. I wonder how the parents would feel if their children were being advised in reverse about the parents concerns – most likely they would be outraged. The simple fact though is once someone has been labeled – and JRC is not exclusive to autism I don’t think – then it is acceptable to dismiss their perspective and feelings entirely.

  2. jesus, that place scares me. with very limited exposure to institutional settings myself…i was plenty shook up by what I saw. but i was staying at the ritz compared to this hellhole.

    i really wonder what it’s going to take in terms of changing the culture so that places like this get shut down.

  3. If you take away all the persuasion, and look at what parents are acutally being asked to say and do, it looks completely demented. Parents are being told to minimize their reactions to all complaints, including potential abuse, presume their children are inherently and inevitably not to be trusted, and respond to a child who complains of being restrained for no reason, malnourished or starve, and subjected to repeated electric shocks with a nice, upbeat, “Well what’s postive about the center?”

    Tell someone “I’ll probably keep your child underfed, and pin them down forcibly in painful positions whenever I fell it’s appropriate. I may decide to electrocute them, if I think they deserve it.” and most peoople won’t you near their child. But slap the right kind of language on, and a lot of people won’t even think about what they’re agreeing to.

    On a side note, I was always bothered by the, “Okay, now say something positive,” tactic. It always seemed dishonest to require people to find something good to say, like a willful attempt to undercut people’s ability to criticize.

  4. It is funny (ironic) how kids who come to my school, and usually it is my class, after all sorts of failures in other schools, say this is the best school they have ever been to. I do not think we are especially good. We just treat them like human beings. We do not punish them for having problems or pin them down and electrocute them. They appreciate (‘like’ is too strong a word) the structure we provide because we try to be consistent and fair. “Try” being the operative word because we do not always succeed. But we try. And all we ask in return is that our students try. We negotiate success. If negotiations break down we have all failed. So IF we used electric shock in our school, failure would mean shocking the staff as well. Let us put a GED on the JRC staff and zap them every time they zap a student.

  5. “If you have a telephone call or a face to face meeting during a visit with your son or daughter and they make some complaint, the first thing to do, I would suggest is to ask yourself, “Is this one of the complaints mentioned on that video I saw?” And then perhaps that will guide you towards the next step, which might be to listen briefly to the complaint. If you can, try to minimize your reaction to it. You can ask for specific details, specific contents, briefly. And then move on. Move on to something more appropriate and positive.”

    I am a parent. If this statement was made to me, EVER, that would be the moment I’d pull my child from this place (frankly, I’d never put him in an institution). It is amazing to me that any parent would sit through a presentation like that, and not realize that something truly sinister was taking place.

    Then again, if my child was constantly complaining about his care, then obviously SOMETHING is really wrong. Sadly, parents forget how intelligent children are, if they have a ‘complaint’ or a ‘concern’ — it would serve the child best to LISTEN. That’s what we’re here for.

    Brainwashing was a good term to use.

  6. L said “It is amazing to me that any parent would sit through a presentation like that, and not realize that something truly sinister was taking place.”

    That is the amazing power of the label though – and lots of families buy into that where they wouldn’t for anyone else. Not saying all families of course because quite frankly it is really weird to think that a parent could not see this obvious manipulation. However as was pointed out – it flatters the parents into thinking they are part of the team and in on some secret. It makes them who have probabaly felt very inadequate feel very special.

  7. Just watched the films. Oh. My. God. The. Seething. Bigotry. Even if you take their version of what’s going on, it sounds criminally abusive.

    As to their appearance, the both moved and sounded like burned-out children’s program hosts. It had the same kind of plastic-like fake feel, the “we’re blinding you with rote niceness-signals” approach to persuasion. It physically sickened me to the point where I had to watch them out of the corner of my eye after a while.

    I wish I could be surprised that parents fall for this, but my mother is exactly the kind who takes “professional” advice as gospel and acts on it regardless of what I say or what the consequences are.

  8. Oh. My. Gosh.

    I had never heard of JRC until just now, so I went to their website and looked around. Their FAQ about skin-shock “treatment” reminds me of an old Star Trek episode (Gamesters of Triskelion), where Kirk et al end up as prisoners on a planet, wearing strange metal neck-rings. It turns out, the neck-rings deliver pain to them, to control their behavior–anything from a mildly unpleasant shock to mind-destroying, life-threatening pain. Of course, in the episode, these devices are presented as evil, as ways to create slaves (those wearing them are called “thralls”), as something to be resisted and removed and destroyed–in a word, they are immoral. Now, something that’s essentially the same is being presented as treatment?!? Dr. Orwell, call your office.

    Then I watched a couple of segments of the “complaints” video that you linked. Dr. Paisey says, “Now young people complain about food all the time, in fact young people complain all the time in my experience, about everything.” How patronizing and condescending. As a mother and a school volunteer, I do have some experience with young people. Some of them complain sometimes, some complain almost automatically, but some almost never complain (unless there is a big problem, in which case it’s not really “complaining”, but reporting). How dare he dismiss anything that my kids or their classmates might say with “Oh, you know, they’re just complaining, they always do.” The nerve!

    Then there was the comment about the “plant-based diet”. (I guess they didn’t want to come right out and say “vegetarian”–afraid of negative reactions from the parents?) You know what that immediately reminded me of? Mr. Bumble, the beadle in “Oliver Twist”, explaining Oliver’s supposedly rebellious and ungrateful behaviour: “It’s not madness, ma’am; it’s meat!” Why doesn’t JRC just feed them gruel, as Mr. Bumble recommends. That way, the kids can be insulted and beaten and locked up, and qietly accept it, instead of resisting.

    Dr. Paisey says, “[what] I would suggest is to ask yourself, ‘Is this one of the complaints mentioned on that video I saw?’” Well, of course it is! The video is designed to categorically include every possible experience a child might have at JRC, or anywhere else, for that matter. I can’t think of anything that was left out.

    The last thing that really caught my attention was the repeated usage of the idea of “alive vs dead”. As in, “your untreated child is somehow dead; treatment will restore life.” First, in the skin-shock FAQ is the statement: “The overall result is that student’s life has been saved…” Second, in one of the parent comment video clips, a mom says of her daughter, “As a result of JRC…she’s alive again.” Scariest of all, on one of the student comment video clips, the *student herself* says, “I have a life now because of JRC.” What, was she dead before?

    The best thing on their whole website? The news that the NY State Ed Dept released a very negative report last June–hopefully some action will be taken.

  9. California Girl, you nailed one of the things that I’d wanted to bring up. The whole, “Kids complain a lot,” thing.

    The video creates a big lump category of kids. There’s a heavily implied subtext that this means “kids who are somehow sick/defective/wrong because why else would they need to be put away?” All kids are defined as incessant complainers. Parents are encouraged to validate this assumption with sloppy logic. Saying that kids have been seen to complain, therefore all kids complain is a basic unfounded generalization. It’s like seeing a black cat and deciding that all cats are black.

    Furthermore, once every child who sets foot on the premise is falsely defined as someone who complains incessantly over trivial matters, parents are encouraged to take the next illogical leap. People who complain over minor problems are presumed NEVER to complain about serious problems. Which, aside from begging the question of what is a minor problem, is completely irrational. Someone who complains about not being allowed to wear their favorite headband to class just for the sake of complaining can still tell people that they’re being violently tackled and locked in isolation rooms for hours because it’s a real problem. A tendency to complain about the trivial is not a magic sheild against real problems.

    But get people who don’t know what to do, genuinely don’t know how to deal with their kid’s behavior, face all kinds of dire predictions about their kid’s future, and don’t know where to look for good information, and they’ll likely at least feel a temptation to trust the surface impressions. That’s why they’re so big on burying things under abstract language, and constantly projecting the “I’m nice,” signals. Because it makes it easier for people who want an answer to not think about what they’re doing.

  10. “Young people often make complaints about the structure of their school no matter what environment they’re in. The more structure and consistency that the school provides, the more the students tend to complain.”

    Now this is contrary to what we already understand about autistic viewpoint. We see structure, highly structured settings, as a comfort. My son complains a lot, but never about structure. The more regimented, the more secure he feels because he can predict what is going to happen next, he knows what is expected of him. He is kind of the opposite of his NT peers because of this. They see “free choice” as play and rewarding. He sees it as a question he can’t answer. Unstructured recess was too chaotic but organized games led by a teacher soothed him and treated him like everyone else.
    Corporal Punishment and bare aesthetics don’t equate “structure” or strict. It’s probably the chaos of the abuse, not knowing what horror is going to happen next that drives them.

  11. Haven’t felt capacitated and/or provoked to text rants in weeks now, but I’m still sporadically lurking, and this post certainly deserved to be spread around the circle. J: yeah. Illogical, and highly insulting, I would presume, to not only the students at the center but any parent who thinks to closely examine the level of condescension occurring here. “Kids complain a lot — fuggedaboutit” is nasty enough, but to imply that because a type of complaint was addressed and pre-dismissed in the course of a video it’s automatically a non-viable complaint — and, for God’s sake, to apply such a patronizing preceptor as “ask yourself if this was one of the complaints mentioned in this video” — is unabashedly offensive. And the fact that they make an effort to include allegations of *abuse* in their List of Complaints that are Automatically False is sinister as hell.

    Reminds me, somehow (not really sure where parallel begins), of a conversation I heard between a physician and a medical student, during an examination I accompanied someone to, when the student noticed and mentioned to the physician a particular symptom that in *anybody* would be reasonable cause for concern. The physician shot the student down with “And we know that (patient) has (pre-existing condition which sometimes manifests with said symptom, but is certainly not the *only* cause of said symptom), so we are going to ignore that.” And the physician said it with such condescension and finality, as though the student were just being silly for wanting to investigate or even mention that symptom, or that she was too stupid to realize that the symptom is a manifestation of the condition. I wonder what the student thought — was the humiliation such that she resolved to keep her mouth shut about that kind of thing in the future? Paternalism is a powerful method; it seems to be particularly effective in keeping folks quiet.

  12. One thing that concerned me was how it said they wore the shock device all the time. I wonder what they do when the kid is taking a shower?

    Another thing I wondered about (I think it was in the demonstration of the parent login that let the parent see the graphs of how the kid was doing: the one where the kid’s opportunity is a member of the medical staff comes in and the kid gets a point if they don’t make a medical complaint. I found that one really confusing because it seems to assume that kids never have anything wrong that they should mention? Also it seems to imply that a kid would have to choose between loosing a priviledge if the complaint is important enough? Also, it seems really confusing because it seems to imply that kids shouldn’t feel anything except if someone else has already noticed it. But don’t people feel subjective things for most medical stuff? I think even normally that can be difficult for people with sensory differences to notice how their body is doing and know what is important to mention?

  13. What is scariest about JRC is not the electric shocks (bad as they are), but rather the brainwashing. The parents are co-opted into distrusting the truth and integrity of what their kids attempt to communicate to them, as shown in the film Ballastexistenz writes about, and the kids are taught learned helplessness in spades.

    The NYS report described a particularly insidious form of brainwashing of the kids that the staff engage in: kids are set up into situations that are intrinsically and intentionally unfair (to themselves, or to peers/friends), or into situations that are intentional renegings by staff on behavior contracts they (or peers/friends) have entered into with staff, then *punished* for asserting the truth about the situations or complaining about them, and *rewarded* for accepting them or keeping their mouths shut about them. This inculcates learned helplessness — with Skinnerian effectiveness. The learned helplessness makes them easier for the staff to “manage”.

    The film Ballastexistenz writes about here is not the only means that JRC uses to keep the parents in line. This film is (relatively speaking) a “carrot”; a corresponding “stick” is the ever-present threat JRC issues to the parents, sometimes implied and sometimes overt, that their failure to rally around the JRC staff and testify as to the benefit and necessity of having their kids at JRC, in order to help fend off unwanted scrutiny or regulatory action against JRC, may well result in their kids being deposited back home on their doorstep with NO SUPPORT WHATSOEVER. This scares the life out of many of those parents (and other family members).

    Unfortunately, one of those family members, this last time that the Massachusetts legislature attempted to do something about JRC, was not only the uncle of a JRC student whose family definitely would NOT want the student back on their doorstep with no support whatsoever, but also the key vote on a Massachusetts House-Senate conference committee dealing with the bill which contained the language that would have effectively forced JRC out of Massachusetts. This state representative was able to singlehandedly force deletion of that language from the bill by playing spoiler and withholding his vote needed to move the bill out of conference committee.

    Matthew Israel and the JRC management are VERY effective at ruling through fear. And it’s not just the students who are manipulated that way.

  14. I tried to view this video, alas, the page cannot be found………the link didn’t work. Perhaps someone over there got wind of this…….I certainly hope not.

  15. I suppose next time save the stuff you are writing about…….(burn a video on a CD if possible, print out webpage material…)…because people have tactics of getting rid of things……..if it’s gone and no one can find it again………well, in their minds they’ve won……

    It’s like sweeping dust under a rug. Once it’s hidden, or taken away as was the JRC site, no one would notice (in the community of people who created and run places like that)really…..and your point on that particular subject might well be moot…….not because it didn’t happen, but because people are sneaky and get rid of stuff…..

    I know it seems ridiculous that I should even suggest such a thing……….(I had an idea of where I was going with this)…….

    it wasn’t in the cache btw…….I clicked on cached items, clicked on every single link in the group, nothing. That’s why I am even daring to suggest this idea. They are taking away ammunition from our defence…….attempts to “out” atrocities like the JRC (of which I knew absolutely nothing about prior to reading your post) and make people more aware of it.


  16. Can you say Stockholm Syndrome? And can you say Abu Gharib? JRC is like Saddam’s Iraq or Stalin’s Russia. It baffles me that Amnesty International isn’t involved.

    Kathy Grant

  17. I used to work at this school, not with students but in administration and basically they treat staff exactly as they treat students – by the use of positive & aversive therapy. The brainwashing, so to speak, occurs on every level. Even to little things like having personal items on your desk or clutter (a HUGE no-no)…

    I voluntarily received a GED (the skin shock) to see what it felt like & it hurt! It may be like a bee sting (as JRC claims) if the bee caused all the muscles in your forearm (or wherever you receive the shock) to contract & shake violently. And, yes, it only lasts two seconds but they feel like the longest two seconds of your life. I was so thankful after having received it that I was not a direct care staff who had to administer this treatment to students, and you can’t refuse to do so or you lose your job.

    The director is a vegan & is using the school to “promote” a healthier lifestyle which in theory is fine but in practice is stifling and controlling. I am thankful every day that I no longer work in that environment & I often suggest to my friends who remain there to get out. It is not worth it to be so controlled.

    The turnover rate of employees is staggering. Burnout is very high, I think the average direct care staff member lasts 4 months.

    The place is very colorful & visually stimulating. I think this is to disguise the stigma associated with their treatment & practices.

    While it’s true that many students benefit and are grateful to JRC for what they have experienced there, I think there are more that wish they had never heard of that place.

  18. The color and visual stimulation, when I saw pictures of it, was actually one of the first red flags I’d have seen even if I didn’t already know what the place is like. It’s been my experience (personal experience, as an inmate) that institutions that spend that much money on decorations have something to hide.

  19. Seems to me that our matty Israel is a bit of a control freak!

    As Digga says: “I used to work at this school, not with students but in administration and basically they treat staff exactly as they treat students – by the use of positive & aversive therapy. The brainwashing, so to speak, occurs on every level. Even to little things like having personal items on your desk or clutter (a HUGE no-no)…” … and goes on to say: “The director is a vegan & is using the school to “promote” a healthier lifestyle which in theory is fine but in practice is stifling and controlling. I am thankful every day that I no longer work in that environment & I often suggest to my friends who remain there to get out. It is not worth it to be so controlled.”

    As far as being a vegan goes… well, that is one thing. To be so fanatical about it as to force that regime on others in one’s care goes… that is entirely unethical, unprofessional, and certainly unwise (in light of the fact that some of the children’s previously notified special dietary arrangements get sacrificed for Matty-boy’s fanaticism, so I read somewhere).

    Laura asked: “One thing that concerned me was how it said they wore the shock device all the time. I wonder what they do when the kid is taking a shower?”

    I believe it was in the NYSED Report on the JRC that I read that the GED was still attached to at least one ‘student’ whilst that ‘student’ was still in the shower.

    There is not one saving grace about that whole place, it seems – nothing that they do fits with current research and positive practice in educational psychology, clinical psychology, forensic psychology or special education; and Matty-boy calls it an ‘educational’ endeavour.

    I’m an educational psychologist: I call the place a torture hall.

  20. I worked there a few years ago. Direct care work. Absolutely the stuff of nightmares. You wouldnt believe the shit that goes on there. I didnt read much of these comments, but keeping the GED on in the shower was the way things were supposed to be done for some patients. Or, yeah, “students” as they say. Didnt seem terribly safe to me, but the arm with the GED was chained to the outside of the shower. So the theory was that it should be ok.

    Terrible, though. Constant violence, constant restraints, and the senior staff were mostly abusive, sadistic cunts. The direct care staff were mostly just people (mostly immigrants, actually) desperate for work. So I have nothing bad to say about them. But much of the senior staff…I think if you work there too long, it really warps you.

    So anyway, I cant really recommend working at the Judge Rotenberg Center. The pay is quite good but…itll be the most horrendous job youve ever had by far.

  21. Facilities and programs that abuse children should be shut down. The administrators prey upon parents who feel their situations are desperate and are grasping at straws. Parents are deceived on many levels.

    California Girl stated, “I had never heard of JRC until just now…”, and this is largely the case with these places. Ivan stated, “attempts to ‘out’ atrocities like the JRC (of which I knew absolutely nothing about prior to reading your post) and make people more aware of it.” If more people were aware that these places were abusing children REGULARLY, more people would be incited to help put a stop to it. Aunts, uncles, brothers, sisters, grandparents.

    There is a watchdog organization which monitors which programs and facilities have been accused of abuse. Isaccorp, check them out at http://www.isaccorp.com, it’ll blow you away.

    If phrases like “brainwashing”, “ruling through fear”,”fanatacism” and “torture hall” all comments resulting from reading this article, are enough to prompt you to get involved, please join the fight to help those who cannot help themselves.

  22. I think the JRC should be shut down.

    But I think the only thing particularly unique about it is the flagrance with which they violate human rights.

    Most places do the same thing (with possibly not the shock devices, but the same sorts of violations) but are less open about it.

    Institutions are the Stanford Prison Experiment, and similar experiments, repeated over, and over, and over, and over, and over again. The only difference is in the experiments there was supervision and they stopped it when it got bad (although even in the prison experiment the oversight didn’t entirely work, it took an outsider coming in and getting shocked by it for them to come to their senses).

    Institutions (by which I’m using the sociological term, which can apply also to group homes and some supported apartment sorts of settings as well as more traditonal ones) don’t have even that level of protection, so human rights violations are almost in the definition of what they are given the way power corrupts most people who have it.

  23. I am a former employee at the Judge Rotenberg Center. I have spent a many of years at JRC as a Direct Care staff member. I can tell you that the place is a nightmare. I am concerned for the safety of the students and the staff members that work there. I concur with “Digga” basically they treat staff exactly as they treat students – by the use of positive & aversive therapy. The brainwashing, so to speak, occurs on every level. Even to little things like having personal items on your desk or clutter (a HUGE no-no)… “Matty” Isreal’s petty obsessions of decor and behaviorism has made the Center a horrible place of employment. Minor infractions warrant discipline such as leaving clutter on your desk. Punishment for staff can result in points deducted from your “Bi-weekly evaluation”, probation (which means staff are not eligible for promotion), suspention (which happens often), demotion (again which happens at an alarming rate), or termination (often). With all of the “policies” put in place at the behest of “Matty” has not made JRC an ideal place to work. This had left JRC severely under manned by 2001. In Response JRC has hired basically anyone who can read and will pass a state required background check. JRC has been left in the hands of “direct care staff were mostly just people (mostly immigrants, actually) desperate for work.” (Takeshi) Direct care staff members who are under qualified and under motivated. Staff are working not for the students but for the pay check. Matty’s answer: tighten up the behaviorism for staff members. For the one’s who care about their job and the students in their care at JRC they lose out. JRC has lost many qualified, caring, and excellent staff over the years. The administration does not care about quality as much as quantity.

    With Recent situations with NY Board of Ed and MA attemting to remove students and prevent the use of the GED has prompted the Adminsistration to abondon its founding principles and focus more on sell, sell, sell. It is to the point where it will lie to prospective clients, promising certain amenities that it is not able to provide. Qualified staff is a joke. Most employees directly responsible for the care of the students are from the same age bracket and social background at the students. This has breached the boundry line between staff and student in an alarmingly inappropriate manor.

    The events of recent years, accusations of abuse, instances of abuse are directly related to the incompetence of the staff members hired and the incompetence of the administration to deal with it.

    JRC was once a great place to work. A great place for emotionally and mentally disturbed patients. I was once proud to be a member of the JRC team. The quality of staff i had once served with was incredible. The level of service provided by JRC was impressive. The quality of life for the students (with the use of the GED included). Now i am proud to have left it. I am not opposed to the use of physical aversives, in fact I would recomend them in some cases. What I am opposed to is the mismanagement of a company with a product so crucial and controversial. I do not agree that JRC should be shut down, I conclude that JRC should take a look at itself and rethink many of their policies and bring JRC back to the specatular place it has the potential to be.

  24. Hall – Since you worked there, can you verify: (1) the 24 Volt GED’s have spread electrodes – which means anyone receiving a GED actually receives 2 electric shocks? (2) GED’s have been placed on the fingertips and soles of the big toes for some students who did not respond to the normal placement on arms, legs, and abdomen?

  25. Thanks for your insight. This not only helps me understand more why people who are victimized in places like the JRC are defensive of it.

    It also has helped me understand the type of psychology that is behind people who defend spanking their children, by saying they were spanked and turned out fine. I’m now thinking perhaps this is because they were brainwashed by their parents to see spanking as acceptable, and thus damaging their child’s ability to discipline their children appropriately when they’re older.

  26. Please write your complaints about the JRC to the Massachusetts Committee on Families and Children before October 27, when the use of aversives will be voted on in the Senate. Also, please complain to the Committee that the survivors, graduates, have not been contacted and given the opportunity to voice their complaints. Please make these complaints to the Federal government’s department of investigations of child abuse and schools. (Sorry, I don’t know the correct name-you’ll have to call someone in Fed govt. or look it up online.) The government needs to hear from the affected community. Any past investigation they’ve done of the JRC is inadequate because they did not give the surviving graduates an opportunity to speak-they did not contact all graduates and tell them they needed to voice their complaints. Thus, any investigation by the Federal government must be redone. Please state this.

  27. Also, please add that, for $56 million a year to take care of 250-260 children, people can surely find safe, effective, humane ways to work with children that do not violate their rights and subject them to abuse. For even the most extreme cases, where children are extremely self-injurious or violent, at $220,000 a head per year, I’ll bet some creative people could find very effective, humane ways to work with children

  28. You can watch the JRC video’s “Why Students Complain” even though JRC took it off there sight. Just use the Wayback Machine (http://web.archive.org/).


    It’s interesting to watch the JRC staff talk about all the bad things about there program (like no concealing or group) and trying to justify it.

    These vids (I feel) do more harm then good to JRC’s image, that’s probably why they removed them.

  29. This blog looks familiar, I remember reading this before, but I don’t remember where, maybe it was here. I’ve see some of the Why Students Complain Videos. JRC is messed up and needs to be shut down.

  30. “JRC you bastards cannot run,
    because we of sound mind are taking you down.
    We are good and evil never beats us.
    We are strong
    and you cannot defeat us.
    are bigger then you
    in mind and soul and heart.
    And though you think we can’t,
    we will take you apart
    to never come back and spread fear,
    for we are
    the ones who’ll give you your demise,
    (yes, it’s a parody of the Steven universe theme, shut up.)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s