Archive for the ‘Judge Rotenberg Educational Center’ Category

Are schools following CIA’s lead in destroying evidence?

January 18, 2008

Cartoon from 12/12/07 by John Darkow (email) , cartoonist for the Columbia (MO) Daily Tribune (archive.)

Patricia Wen’s (email) Boston Globe article,“Report says shock tapes destroyed against order,” caught my eye today. She writes about Judge Rotenberg Educational Center group home in Stoughton, where a video tape recorded staff administering 77 shocks, the to one emotionally disturbed teenager and 29 to another, with one of the students being placed in four-point restraints, limiting mobility of all four limbs. All this, after a “prankster” posing as a supervisor delivered supposed orders from the school’s director and a chief aide.

When the investigator with the Disabled Persons Protection Commission asked for a copy of the tapes she had viewed school officials said they did not

want any possibility of the images getting into the media.

The investigator directed the school to preserve a copy of the tapes for use by State Police conducting a criminal investigation, but was later told by a trooper that the school had failed to do so.

School spokesman, Ernest Corrigan, said that investigators from the commission held an “exit interview” on Sept. 30 with school staff, leading them to believe there was no more need to keep the tapes. The school;s founder said that the the school reuses the tapes after 30 days and thought that investigation “seemed to be finished.” He gave a similar explanation at the State House hearing on Wednesday on a bill to restrict shock treatments at the school.

According to a December 18 story by the same reporter, the center,

which serves about 250 adults and children from across the country, has been under fire for more than two decades for its unorthodox behavior-modification treatments, including electric shock treatments.

It’s ironic that I picked Darkow’s cartoon as an illustration for today’s post, as I later read in Drawn to Extremes that Darkow and his paper had been sued for his skewering of a school board candidate that preached the value of a return to corporal punishment. In something that sounds like it comes out of Stanley Milgram’s infamous experiment on obedience, Wen writes that the

shock devices, which are strapped to some students’ arms, legs, or torsos, deliver two-second electric jolts to the skin. The devices are controlled remotely by teachers.

Other things I’ve been reading today: