graduated electronic decelerator

The graduated electronic decelerator (GED) is an instrument of electric torture currently in use in a Massachussetts school for the intellectually disabled, the Judge Rotenburg Center.

It was invented by Matthew Israel in the early 1990s, following on from an earlier electric device he had designed in 1988 called the SIBIS (Self-Injurious Behaviour Inhibiting System), which delivered a “weak” electric shock for 0.2 seconds. He found that this did not always prevent the undesired behaviours, so he went on to create the GED-1. This initial version of the GED delivered a “much more powerful” shock, with an amperage of 30mA (three times more than a cattle prod), that lasted “ten times as long”. In 1994 the FDA approved it, on the understanding that it was functionally equivalent to the SIBIS.

By 1992, Matthew Israel had also designed the GED-3a and GED-4, which were much more powerful again than the GED-1, because he felt that “some students had adapted to the GED-1”. The GED-4 delivered a shock with an amperage of 90mA. The FDA never cleared these for use. In 2000, they incorrectly notified the Judge Rotenburg Center that these devices were exempt from needing approval. Only in 2011 did they inform them of their error and order them to cease using them, but the JRC refused. In 2020, the FDA completely banned the GED, but this was overturned by a federal appeals court decision the next year.

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