The US Food and Drug Administration is setting its sights on the device that delivers painful electric shocks to students at the Judge Rotenberg Center, charging an advisory panel to weigh whether to ban them for good.“FDA is concerned that they present a substantial and unreasonable risk of illness or injury,” the agency wrote in an executive summary for the hearing.
The Judge Rotenberg Center in Canton is the only place in the country to use the shocking devices, which it calls Graduated Electronic Decelerators, or GEDs. The Rotenberg Center says the devices work when other treatments have failed to stop its most difficult clients from engaging in severely destructive behavior.
The shock therapy has been controversial for decades, and scrutiny was renewed in 2012, when video of former student Andre McCollins being restrained and shocked for hours was publicized. McCollins’ mother was suing the Judge Rotenberg Center over the events that day, which left McCollins hospitalized. The case settled out of court while the jury was deliberating.
Several comments made to the FDA advisory panel have urged members to review the video, which first aired on FOX 25.
Opponents to the shocks also say there are now other, more effective and humane methods of treating the extreme behaviors that Rotenberg Center students have had.
Jean Flatley McGuire, a former assistant secretary for the Massachusetts Executive Office of Health and Human Services who now is a professor at Northeastern University, wrote to the FDA urging a ban on the shock devices.