In a split decision, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit overturned the FDA’s ban on the use of an electric shock device which inflicts pain on persons with disabilities at the Judge Rotenberg Educational Center (JRC) in Canton, Massachusetts.
As Peter Berns, my national counterpart at The Arc has stated, we believe that “there are alternative methods for behavioral supports for people with disabilities and other needs that do not include excessive force, pain, and fear.” I am shocked and disappointed at this turn of events.
Chief Judge Sri Srinivasan dissented from his two other colleagues. He wrote in his opinion, “The FDA found that use of electrical stimulation devices to treat those behaviors poses a number of health and safety risks—from physical injuries such as severe pain, skin burns, and tissue damage, to psychological injuries such as panic, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder.”
Additionally, he pointed out:
- the FDA took years to study the issue
- that the partial ban of the device was warranted since some persons with disabilities would not see a casual connection with their behavior NOR did they have control over the use of the device.
This is not the end to this issue or ending this practice. The civil rights of persons with disabilities hangs in the balance.