Published on Apr 18, 2012
Gov. Patrick supports shock ban, legislation so far has stalled in House
Updated: Wednesday, 18 Apr 2012, 7:37 PM EDT
Published : Wednesday, 18 Apr 2012, 7:36 PM EDT
Kevin Rothstein, Producer
BOSTON (FOX 25 / MyFoxBoston.com) - In the latest fallout from the controversial video of an autistic teenager restrained and shocked for hours, Gov. Deval Patrick now says he would likely support a bill banning shock treatments outright if it came across his desk.
"I'm uncomfortable of the idea of electric shock treatment. That's why we put in the ban for new patients at the center," Patrick told FOX Undercover reporter Mike Beaudet Wednesday, referring to new regulations his administration passed last year that didn't affect patients already receiving the shocks.
"We have some constraints about what we can do with patients who are there already because of existing court orders, and I have to acknowledge there's a medical view on the other side of this. But just as a person, it's something I'm uncomfortable with," Patrick continued.
"Should they be banned outright?" Beaudet asked.
"As I say, there's a medical view on the other side of that question, but if that bill were to get to me I think I'd be inclined to sign it. I want to make sure it was thoughtful and that the opposing views have been considered," Patrick replied.
The Judge Rotenberg Center in Canton is the only place in the country to use powerful electric shocks as aversive therapy. That practice is under renewed scrutiny with the release of video of it in use.
The video was recorded by one of the Rotenberg Center's cameras and it shows 18-year-old Andre McCollins being restrained and shocked for hours in a classroom in 2002. The first recorded shock came after he refused to take off his coat, and later shocks came for yelling or when he tensed his body, both behaviors that his treatment plan called for shocks.
The video first came to light last week as McCollins' civil trial began in Norfolk Superior Court. McCollins' mother has already testified that the shocks amounted to "torture."
The controversial treatment is already in the cross hairs of Senate Pres. Therese Murray, who said last week that the video was more evidence that the shocks should be banned outright in Massachusetts. Legislation to do so has failed in the past because of support for aversive therapies in the House. Speaker Robert DeLeo voiced concerns about the video but stopped short of calling for a ban.
The ban on new students getting the shocks may already be in place but the Rotenberg Center is planning to challenge those regulations in court. The Rotenberg Center has declined so far to comment on the McCollins case outside of court but says the shocks are an appropriate form of treatment and only used after a court approves them.
In court Wednesday, lawyers for the Rotenberg Center and its doctors continued to defend their treatment of McCollins. They played long segments of video from that day which showed staff members checking on his restraints, offering him a drink, and even trying to take him to the bathroom.
The effort to take him to the bathroom ended with another shock because, as one of the defendants testified today, McCollins put up resistance when they tried to take him off a restraint board. So instead of a trip to the bathroom, McCollins was shocked again, restrained, and had a diaper put on him.
The defense will continue to make its case Thursday in a trial that's now expected to last into next week.
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