Wednesday, July 20, 2011
Letter to the Editor of the Canton Citizen

In a letter published in this space recently, I was criticized for my efforts to stop the application of painful electric skin shocks to disabled children at the Judge Rotenberg Center in Canton. The author suggested that my efforts on this and other matters were motivated by recent publicity and political expediency. Please allow me to respond.

My steadfast commitment to protecting innocent, disabled children from this painful electric skin shock is motivated by my sincere belief that government has a duty to defend the defenseless. My efforts long pre-date the hospitalization of two individuals whose burns resulted from being shocked by JRC employees over 100 times while physically bound. My efforts also pre-date the United Nations’ determination that what happens behind the walls of the JRC constitutes torture, and pre-date the recent criminal indictment of the JRC executive director, Matthew Israel.
Nor is there any political gain for me whatsoever in taking on this issue. Indeed, the power in this equation seems to lie with the JRC, which generated over $400 million in revenue (mostly tax dollars) over the last 10 years, spent $15 million on lawyers during that period, and millions more on lobbyist and public relations specialists.
The letter’s author was also vocal in his criticism of my efforts to implement common-sense measures to make our roads safer. Again, my effort in this regard began long before the recent spate of tragic accidents, including the avoidable death of a 4-year-old girl in a crosswalk on Rte. 138. When a constituent pointed out that under then-current law, a 100-year-old person could renew their license for five years by mail without any vision, physical or mental examination, I began my effort to pass common-sense legislation. Today, that 100-year-old driver has to go to the Registry of Motor Vehicles and pass a vision test in order to renew his or her license. I believe that is a fairly modest requirement.

Once again, there was absolutely no political gain for me in taking on this issue. Indeed, passing this legislation was difficult precisely because many of my colleagues are well aware that seniors vote in disproportionately high numbers. I received many angry cards, letters and telephone calls from older constituents, including the letter’s author.

I am very grateful for the strong support that I received from the people of Canton last year, and I continue to be grateful for the opportunity to represent Canton in the Massachusetts Senate.

Brian A. Joyce
State Senator
Norfolk, Bristol and Plymouth District