More Info – and comments

Disability and human rights advocates have been concerned about the Judge Rotenberg Center (previously, the Behavior Research Institute) since its earliest days in California. The Truth About JRC is a site on which anyone who has concerns about the Judge Rotenberg Center can post information, participate in discussion or ask questions.

People who have worked at the Judge Rotenberg Center are sure that parents are not told the whole truth when they are considering this placement.  One purpose of this site is to assure that parents have help in identifying humane alternatives for their children.

We know that there are people with severely challenging behaviors … we also know that people with behaviors just as difficult as those of people housed at JRC are being treated humanely and effectively in positive programs across the country. If it was true that JRC was the only facility that could effectively serve people with similar behaviors, their rolls would reach the thousands.

If the methods used at JRC worked – if a case could be made that their inhumanity was justified by their success, you wouldn’t have students still there after 30+ years.  You wouldn’t need to continually develop devices that deliver a stronger and stronger shock or methods to spread the electrodes so the electrical current passes through more flesh for the purpose of assuring greater and greater amounts of pain. Positive behavioral approaches are proven to have more staying power; they give people tools that they can use for life and they help them to change dangerous behaviors in ways that value, enhance, and include people rather than through the use of methods that are coercive, controlling, and inhumane.

We encourage people, especially current and former employees, people who have been housed at JRC, and family members to tell their stories. We want to hear from everyone who has concerns. Entries can be anonymous if you choose. If you have documents that you would like to have posted on this site, please email them to me at:


12 Responses to More Info – and comments

  1. As a parent of a formerly “incorrigible” teen who went through multiple schools and programs and hospitals until I finally found the Academy at Swift River, which turned his life around by building him up rather than tearing him down, I am horrified to hear that this torture center exists. There needs to be a class action suit to get rid of this place. And every parent MUST remove their child immediately! I know the desperation of having a child that disrupts and destroys the home, but the alternative cannot be to sentence them to a life of torture. By the way, after graduating from Swift River my son went on to college and is now a Ph.D. Student.

  2. Anonymous says:

    I worked there at one time. It was such a bad experience for me on a personal level. The staff are well paid. It just never felt right. The center is not a great place to work. Everyone is very intense,not just students. The tapes run in every room, at least while I was there. Audio and video recording goes on in the rooms and common areas but not bathrooms or laundry rooms. Cameras are positioned right outside of those areas. I can remember being in constant restrain or on standby of restraint. This was several years back, maybe it has improved some? I will tell you this, JRC entices professional people with their high salaries and long hours. Money driven people like the pay. Very few seem to enjoy the work.

  3. AnonymousLegion says:

    Email them anonymously:

    To the director and staff of the Judge Rotenberg Center, we are Anonymous.

    Your mistreatment of disabled children and young adults has been brought to our attention. Your extensive use of aversive methods, including electric shock and withholding of food as a form of behavioral modification is nothing less than torture. We are aware that your so called treatments include attaching electrodes to students and administering a shock that is up to 20 times more powerful than that delivered by a police taser. We have seen the effects of it in mainstream media broadcasts, and heard the statements of opposition by family and friends.

    The founder, Doctor Matthew Israel was indicted on counts of obstructing justice by ordering the destruction of video evidence that detailed an event involving a student being shocked over 100 times. This is not the first action taken against the center for abuses. However, electric shock is still used as a part of the centers aversive program.

    In response to your torture of these individuals, we have initiated an operation against your center. We are calling upon all concerned citizens to spread the message of opposition through social networks, emails, and phone communications. Contact your local representatives and the Judge Rotenberg Center directly and voice your concern. We will no longer tolerate the abuse of the innocent.

    We are demanding the immediate discontinue of all harsh aversive methods. This is a warning that you should not take lightly.

    We are Anonymous.
    We are legion.
    We do not forgive.
    We do not forget.
    Judge Rotenberg Center, you should expect us.

  4. stopthetsa says:

    I used to work as a nurse at a state school. Some of our clients were very self abusive. There is no reason to use shock therapy. It is criminal and inhumane. I have seen miraculous recovery of the most self abusive clients with a good psychologist and behavior therapy program. The abuse at this school is insulting to the psychological and medical fields.

  5. Anonymous says:

    I am new to this site…found it researching The Rothenberg Center, actually. I am a mother of a complex, high functioning autistic young woman, adopted from an Eastern Bloc country with a myriad of challenges, behaviour being the worst. For the last five years, particularly, her challenges have escalated and we have been through the “system”, hospitalization, where the mentally disabled are merely warehoused, medicated, and in NY, also pushed toward ECT treatments. My daughter has suffered abuse from hospital staff while in restraints; we have been in private, pricey places such as Timberline Knolls in Illinois, which is a sham; and various other facilities in six other states, promising the world and delivering little. To anyone reading this, I am here to tell you that as a caretaker, mother and Legal Guardian, it is time to “take back” our loved ones and advocate, advocate, advocate. This is a billion dollar industry when you consider the enormous amounts of medication fed to patients….some of the facilities in NY are still medieval.

    I would really like to see a national umbrella organization for Caretakers and a data base of the good facilities and bad. I would also like to see strengthening of Federal Laws…our loved ones need more than ramps and parking spaces…they need PROTECTION. Right now she is in Houston at The Mental Health Co-op. If anyone out there has other suggestions, please, please send them along: I am Thank you.

  6. Kenneth Mollins says:

    On August 26, 2007 two students were mercilessly shocked as a result of a prank at the Judge Rotenberg Center in Canton, Massachusetts. The only center in the country where students receive shocks for saying “no” to a directive and where students are strapped to a board for hours after certain forbidden behaviors, are shocked without warning as they lie on boards on the floor. The United Nations recently found the treatment of our children at this facility to be “torture” yet it continued day in and day out. Clinicians who previously and illegally called themselves “psychologists” oversee this torture all under the direction of Mathew Israel, the center’s founder and leader in this aversive torture. And now, almost four years after the victims of this prank have heard nothing, and after daily pain and torture continued to be disseminated into the bodies of our children, we can say “The Director” has been stopped. Matthew Israel tried to cover the cruelty of the event by getting rid of the video. He lied about the events of the evening. He will not suffer the torture his victims suffered and he will not be punished for those actions. He is being punished for lying and interfering with the administration of justice. Four years it took to call the man a liar and punish him. Four years while this terrorist continued to inflict pain on those who couldn’t respond or understand the reason for it … he will shock no more.

    I really don’t care why … I really don’t care who … although I wanted to see him in handcuffs, I really don’t care if he walks out a free man. But is he really free? He knows what he has done and the humiliation coupled with the loss of power is enough for me. Well, it’s enough for me if our children are protected. This is an awesome first step. We need to be vigilant in making sure the children in this center and anywhere else cannot be tortured. The disability advocates of this country should be proud because without all of you Mathew Israel might still be the director.

    He is now just an alleged common criminal!

    – Kenneth Mollins

  7. jacobp81 says:

    It’s cruel and inhumane. It violates Mass regulation 115, it violates human decency. This school should be SUED for pain and suffering. Whats wrong with this world where JRC is trampling over human rights. Shocking children for things as minor as swearing, depriving people of food, and the Mass legal system, the US legal system, and all these other mental health organizations, are just letting them get away with it. Sure some effort has been made to stop JRC. But why have they been continuously allowed to do these inhumane practices. It’s sick and inexcusable.

  8. Please don’t hesitate to let us know if we can help. This is something many have admitted to be afraid to talk about or take a stand on. It is institutionalized discrimination and abuse towards people based on their differences.
    After the UN called on Obama administration publicly there has still been silence.

    It is amazing that through all 4 decades now all of our leader turned the other way. Why?
    Why, in all other matters of education and care, “the parents” are told they are not experts and don’t know best, and their voices are often disregarded. However the only defense heard regarding this issue is that the “parents approve”. When it suits some who want to continue this abuse, some parents’ alleged approval is the all important quotient?

    Has anyone reached out to Rep. Sanchez yet?

  9. BCT says:

    I have read some of the documents coming out of JRC, which they prepared themselves. I have also listened to their justifications for the torture they inflict on the disabled. I have seen the GED unit and watched someone get shocked. I cannot believe in this day of so called enlightened thinking regarding the disabled that we as a society allow these people to openly torture these defenseless people. The parents and guardians who allow this to happen to their children and relatives have “drunk the koolaid” and now cannot justify their own complacency so they defend it. Worse, we as taxpayers are all paying them to do it. It’s just horrendous.

  10. Lynell Tucker says:

    I so appreciate the efforts of advocates and the development of sites like this that are designed to share and educate about the realities of what does not need to be. Thank you.

  11. Dee Bura says:

    As someone who has provided supports and services for over 12 years to people with developmental disabilities (some of whom have challenging behaviors), I can confirm that it is positive supports that provide hope, healing, and change.

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