Readers Respond to Judge Rotenberg Center Stories
Our Patch readers are actively debating the issues regarding the Judge Rotenberg Center in Canton.
A series of articles on Canton's Judge Rotenberg Center has sparked a heated debate among Canton Patch readers. Since Patch reported on the indictment of JRC Founder Matthew Israel back in May, and followed up with two additional stories this past week, the comments from opponents and supporters have been posted at a rapid pace.
No other story on the Canton Patch website, since its launch in November 2010, has created such emotional conversations online.
As the final piece in our three-part series, we wanted our readers' voices to be heard. Here is a selection of comments and letters that our readers wrote.
Writing on Behalf of the Disabled
Reader Venus Heard reached out to Patch after reading the first article on Israel's indictment. As a disabled woman and advocate, she penned a letter to the editor to speak out on behalf of disabled people across the country.
"Just because a person is disabled, does not mean that they do not have a voice," Venus wrote. "They may not be able to tell you what is wrong due to multiple reasons...Disabled people need to be heard because they are people with feelings and have families just as all of us do."
The View from a Student at JRC
Geovani, a Patch reader that identifies himself as a former student at JRC, wrote about his unfortunate experience back in 2003. Geovani spoke of the mistreatment he received at the center.
It felt "more like a prison then (sic) a treatment center," Geovani wrote. "I then decided had enuff (sic) after I been thru(sic) countless days of mistreatment, I kept complaining to my mom. She finally sent one letter then after that she came to get me out of there."
"Just telling you guys my JRC stories from the inside. I have a lot of other details. It's just a horrific mad house in their. (sic) I pray it gets shut down!"
A JRC Opponent's Point of View
Adamant opponent of the JRC's practices, reader Dan Farnkoff wrote about being against the use of aversives and his distaste for Matthew Israel.
"He's guilty of being a morally bankrupt charlatan, that's for sure," Farnkoff wrote. "Maybe instead of probation they should have hooked [Israel] up to the GED for a few days and let his "students" take turns pressing the button. That would have at least come close to actual justice for the man's crimes, though I admit that it would be a little inhumane."
Another opponent spoke out against JRC Lawyer Michael Flammia's comments on the radio boycott.
Lisa Williams identifies herself as a member of COPPA, The Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates, Inc., and an advocate. She said the nonprofit COPPA has 1,200 members and advocates for the rights of special needs children.
"Flammia, you say the boycott will not have any effect," Williams wrote. "We will see about that! I am a member of COPPA and I don't like you, Matthew Israel or JRC. I am going to send letters and emails to stations and ask them to not advertise for the JRC."
A JRC Supporter Speaks Out
One supporter wrote in to share her point of view.
"Attorney Flammia, You're doing a great job," Christine S. wrote. "Keep it up. JRC needs to remain open for those people who severely hurt themselves and others, and who don't respond to Positive Only Programming."
"JRC has saved so many lives. Thank you for fighting to save lives," Christine wrote.
A Parent Supporter of JRC Speaks Out
Eudessa I. wrote her comments directly to George Deabold, who was interviewed in the radio boycott story and has actively commented on the Patch site.
"I am just curious about you and what you are fighting for," Eudessa wrote. "Do you have a child who has severe challenging behaviors that does self abuse and severely hurt other people? Do you have a child whose application was rejected by all schools in NY? Do you have a child who was moved from JRC, placed in a NY school again and then was hospitalized because of the severity of his self-injurious behaviors and was put in a 4 point strap in a hospital in NY?"
"Oh, incidentally, my son is on the positive reinforcement only and not on the GED program, yet he improved a lot. I am a mother and I know what is best for my son," she wrote.
Special Needs Parent Opposing the Treatment at JRC
Reader Tom Rosati wrote that he is a parent of a special needs child and opposes the treatment at the JRC.
Rosati also directed his comments to George Deabold.
"Mr. Deabold keep up the good work," he wrote. "I can see from reading the threads of this website that you have done your homework. I want to thank you for standing up for the children. I have read alot about the center. I find it very odd that this place has been around for about 40 years. I can see that a few parents posted in favor of the center."
"I know of one of the parents that packed their kid up and sent him to Rotenberg.This guy and his wife could have kept the child at home and sent the child to the same school that my son goes to," he wrote.
"I think any parent that sends their child off to that place needs to be shocked back to reality," he wrote.
Continue to Follow the Story on Canton Patch
As the story develops, stay tuned to Canton Patch for the latest updates and be sure to read all of the comments on the JRC stories.