Sunday, June 15, 2008
Jennifer Gonnerman won Honorable Mention at The MOLLY's, the 2008 National Journalism Prize, for "School of Shock" first published in Mother Jones.
In her troubling expose, Gonnerman sheds light on the Judge Rotenberg Center, a Massachusetts-based behavior modification program that for 30 years has used an elaborate system of rewards and punishments--including painful electric shocks administered through electrodes attached to the bodies of children as young as 9 years old--in an attempt to socialize troubled teens.
Like so many six-guns, workers at the Judge Rotenberg Center carry remote controls on their belts. Kid misbehaves... Zap !
Each remote bears the face of the child to be zapped - so that they won't accidently shock the wrong kid.
But in August, one student was shocked 77 times, and another 29 times, after a prank caller posing as a supervisor ordered the "treatments." One of the boys was treated for first-degree burns.
The Rotenberg Center is the only facility in the country that disciplines students by shocking them, a form of punishment not inflicted on serial killers or child molesters or any of the 2.2 million inmates now incarcerated in U.S. jails and prisons.
It is also the facility that destroyed the videotape showing showing those shocks, despite being ordered to preserve the tape.
School of Shock is reprinted here at the Texas Observer: