Press Release – ADAPT Demands HHS to End the Torture of Disabled People


For More Information:

Priya Penner:                   (585) 944-3086
Bruce Darling:                  (585) 370-6690
Marilee Adamski-Smith: (715) 204-4152

WHAT:   National ADAPT Calls on HHS To End Torture of Disabled People
WHERE: 200 Independence Avenue S.W. Washington, D.C., 20201
WHEN:  Monday, May 14, 2018

ADAPT Demands HHS to End the Torture of Disabled People

5/14/18 Washington DC – Several hundred members of the national disability rights organization ADAPT are at Health and Human Services (HHS) headquarters today to demand the immediate ban of electroshock devices known as “aversives” use by the Judge Rotenberg Center (JRC) in Canton, Massachusetts. ADAPT held a protest on October of 2016 in which over 200 advocates occupied the entrance to the JRC, and followed up this past March when 50 ADAPT members held a vigil outside the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Scott Gottlieb’s home for 12 days.

Gottlieb refused to sign the already-written regulations that would ban the torture at JRC. As a result, ADAPT is outside the office of HHS Secretary Alex Azar II to demand that he exercise his authority over the FDA to end this atrocity.

The UN Special Rapporteur on Torture has condemned this practice as a human rights violation. JRC builds the device to be more powerful than a police taser in an absurd attempt to control disabled people’s behavior and punish them for things as small as getting out of their seats without permission. Jennifer Msumba, a JRC survivor, has called the shocks as “a stinging, ripping, and pulling pain that froze time.”

“There is no valid research demonstrating that these devices have any long-term educational or therapeutic value. It is torture, pure and simple.” said Mike Oxford, ADAPT organizer from Kansas.

In 2016, the FDA finalized regulations which would ban the use of these electrical shock devices. However, the FDA has failed to sign off on the rule despite the demand from the disability community that they do so. President Trump, in his first address to Congress, expressed frustration with the FDA approval process and its impact on the lives of disabled people. It is long past the time for HHS Secretary Azar and FDA Commissioner’s Gottlieb to follow through on President Trump’s promise to expedite the FDA decision process and act to protect disabled Americans in JRC from this crime.

For decades ADAPT has worked to secure for disabled Americans the same rights and liberties enjoyed by their non-disabled neighbors. Learn more about ADAPT’s history and activities at, on social media with the National ADAPT Facebook and Twitter pages. Also, under the hashtag #ADAPTandRESIST.