In a stunning reversal, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit overturned the Food and Drug Administration’s ban on the use of electric shock devices that has inflicted painful abuse on residents of the Judge Rotenberg Educational Center (JRC) in Canton, Massachusetts for decades. JRC is an institution for children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities and mental health issues. The Arc and The Arc of Massachusetts, alongside several disability rights organizations and empowered self-advocates across the country, fought for decades to stop this practice.

By the FDA’s own count, as many as 50 JRC residents wear the shock device. Staff members use remote controls to administer shocks for perceived misbehavior. JRC is the only place in the country that uses the barbaric and inhumane practice, despite substantial evidence that the shocks are painful and traumatizing to residents, and alternative positive behavioral supports exist, and are proven more effective.

“In 2021, we should not still have to fight tooth and nail for people with disabilities to live free from fear and torture. The Arc denounces this ruling, as it strips dignity away from those living at this facility and threatens the civil rights of all people with disabilities. We will continue to fight for the end of this abusive practice,” said Peter Berns, CEO, The Arc.

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