Family court judge Katherine Field denied a motion to end the use of electric shock on disable students. In her decision she stated “(The state) failed to demonstrate that there is now a professional consensus that the Level III aversive treatment RC does not conform to the accepted standard of care for treating individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities”.
It is understood that the law requires certain standards are met and the judge is responsible for maintaining that a case meets this criteria but does the law preclude the judge for applying his or her common sense. The written law does allow for a court to interpret the law in a strict or a loose construction. This provides the court latitude so it may adapt the law to the change in society. This allowance in some cases aids the court to better apply the punishment to fit the crime. Understanding that when the law enacted the world had a different set of social tenets and the law was meant to mete out justice based on the current zeitgeist.
The ruling is in respects to the Judge Rotenberg Educational Center (JRC) which is a special needs day and residential school. A former employee, Greg Miller taught at this facility from 2003 through 2006. He was responsible for bringing the school’s use of shock treatment to light. He claimed that the students were subjected to electric shocks for very minor infractions like speaking without permission. Due to the school’s liberal use of shocking the students, he left his position. The school calls the punishment ‘aversive treatment’.
To allow a disabled person to be subjected to electrical shocks may be satisfying for the administer but this type of treatment has shown no verifiable evidence of altering or correcting the aberrant behavior. For this judge to allow for its continuance is morally questionable. It seems that since the aversive treatment bears no effective results one would think the ruling should be to put an end to it’s use.
Perhaps the judge should be administered some aversive treatment to assist her mental thought process.