Judge Rotenberg Center

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Judge Rotenberg Center is a behavior modification center located around Canton in Massachusetts

The main facility is located on 240-250 Turnpike Street in Canton, Massachusetts.

Program Structure[redigér]

The program use a reward / punishment system with five levels:

  • 1) Intake Residences
  • 2) Intermediate Residences
  • 3) High Privileges Residences
  • 4) High Privileges Apartments
  • 5) Transitional Apartments/Residences.

The teenagers have to demonstrate improvement in their behavior in order to gain access to a higher level. Bad behavior can get them demoted to a lower level <Ref>Reward Systems in the Residences, Program homepage</Ref> <Ref>Behavior-Determined Residence Ladder, Program homepage</Ref> <Ref>Bedroom Reward/Educational Systems, Program homepage</Ref>.

Living conditions[redigér]

Intake Residences: There are five of them. Each can detain 8 to 12 children. There are very little access to community and they are not allowed use of bathroom unsupervised. As part of the reward system they can have computers, televisions, DVD players, game systems, stereo systems, etc in their rooms depending on their preferences and current capabilities.

Intermediate Residences: There are seven of them with a capacity to detain 8 to 16 children. They have access to the community during weekends. They can be approved to use the bathroom themselves depending of their behavior. As part of the reward system they can have computers, televisions, DVD players, game systems, stereo systems, etc in their rooms depending on their preferences and current capabilities.

High Privileges Residences: There are nine of them with a capacity to detain 4 to 6 children. They can attend outside classes. They can be allowed to work. As part of the reward system they can have computers, televisions, DVD players, game systems, stereo systems, etc in their rooms depending on their preferences and current capabilities. Privileges like private use of bathroom can be granted or taken away depending of behavior.

High Privileges Apartments:

Transitional Apartments/Residences:


A majority of the children are fitted with electrical devices once they enter the facility. If they do not behave the staff can activate a remote control, which give the child a powerful shock. A single child have devices attacted on several parts of the body so they will receive multiple shocks.

The use of electrical shocks are not limited to the devices the teenagers are forced to wear. Some are told to sit on a special chair and if they choose to stand up the chair is wired so they receive a shock by choosing to disobey.

Other children are forced to keep their hands in waist holsters. If they try to pull their hands out of the holsters, they will receive a shock.

The use of the shock devices have brought forward critism. A report has been published <Ref>Observations and Findings of Out-of-State Program Visitation Judge Rotenberg Educational Center, by Rusty Kindlon, Regional Associate; Susan Bandini, Regional Associate; Christopher Suriano, Regional Associate; Paula Tyner-Doyle, RD; Dr. Caroline Magyar, Consultant; Dr. Daniel Crimmins, Consultant; Dr. David Roll, Consultant</Ref>.

International recognition[redigér]

The use of aversion therapy has found widespread use based on the methods used by JRC. Facilities in Norway and Australia has recently begun to use such methods.

In the news[redigér]

The state of Massachusetts has started an investigation into an incident where three persons received electrical shock in order to reveal, who was responsible for a prank-phonecall made from the facility. The state are especially careful after they lost in court and have to pay $580,000 in relationship with the 1985 death of a 22-year-old man, who suffered a seizure while restrained and forced to listen to static noise <Ref>Report: Prank Call Led To Shock Treatment, Disabled Persons Protection Committee Investigating, Thebostonchannel.com, December 17 2007</Ref>

In 2007 an unknown person called in the middle of the night and claimed that two of the detained teenagers had to be punished due to their actions the evening before. Two teenagers were given 77 and 29 shocks. One were treated for first degree burns. The state investigated and gave permission to continued treatment <Ref>Matthew Israel Interviewed by Jennifer Gonnerman, Mother Jones, August 20 - 2007</Ref>.

In December 2007 the state gave the facility permission to use shock therapy for a year <Ref>Mass. school gets OK to use shock treatments for year, USAtoday, December 22 2007</Ref>

In May 2008 the police raided the facility. A lot of documents were carried away by the authorities <Ref>Rotenberg records reportedly are seized, by Patricia Wen , The Boston Globe, MAy 15 - 2008</Ref> <Ref>State Police Raid JRC, Walk Out With Boxes of Documents, a thread on fornits webforum</Ref>

August 27, 2009 a teenager was arrested after a fight with a staff member and charged with various counts of battery <Ref>Teen at Stoughton residential treatment center charged with assault, by Kate Sullivan Foley, Wicked Local Stoughton, September 1, 2009</Ref>

In February 2010, the US Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division began a Federal investigation of the school. <Ref>U.S. Department of Justice opens investigation on Judge Rotenberg Center, EducationNews.org</Ref>

November 2011 teenagers who enter the facility will no longer be subjected to eletric punishment <ref>JRC Banned from Shocking New Admissions, Disability Rights International</ref>

May 2017 a former worker was charged with alleged assault on 3 residents <ref>Former Norton group home worker indicted for alleged assaults on three residents , By David Linton, The Sun Chronicle, May 10 - 2017</ref>

External Links[redigér]

Info pages[redigér]

  • Info: jrc_blogger, former detainee at JRC who blogs about the stay (Xanga)
  • Info: [1], the school is now under Federal investigation
  • Info: [2], 67-page illustrated report of conditions at the school (report titled TORTURE, NOT TREATMENT)

Activist groups[redigér]

Message boards[redigér]