Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota provided general guardianship services for Ray Sandford, which means that they ought to have supported his passionate campaign to stop his involuntary outpatient electroshock. Instead, their division that works on guardianship, LSS Guardianship Options, actually opposed his campaign in several ways. The director of these guardianship services within LSS is Eric Jonsgaard, Senior Director, LSS Guardianship Options.
31 October 2009 Update
The Ray Sandford campaign is over, and Ray won. He no longer receives forced electroshock. Those who support Ray’s campaign are asked to end the encouraged actions, and begin celebrating. Thank you to everyone who supported his campaign.
MindFreedom is proud to have supported Ray. Those interested in understanding why Ray received electroshock, and how his campaign won, will want to study these pages in Ray’s Web of Links.
MindFreedom board, staff and members are also proud that throughout this campaign, we have consistently called for peaceful, nonviolent action, even though Ray himself was exposed to extreme and traumatic violence at the hands of his own guardianship service, LSS.
Here is info from the original May 2009 alert, to understand the history of Ray’s campaign to end his forced electroshock
Name: Eric Jonsgaard, Senior Director, LSS Guardianship Options
City/State: St. Paul, Minnesota
Connection to Ray’s case: Directs the general guardianship services for Ray Sandford, who is receiving ongoing outpatient forced electroshock. While LSS does not directly oversee Ray’s electroshock, they could be an ally for his campaign, but instead have actively blocked this campaign.
For example, Mr. Jonsgaard has been quoted in the media as opposing publicity about Ray and his campaign, publicly criticizing human rights allies of Ray’s campaign. In a newspaper report on 18 November, Mr. Jonstaard took the opportunity to chastise MindFreedom for using Ray’s full name in the Ray Campaign, despite the fact that Ray has specifically and repeatedly authorized MindFreedom and NPR to do so.
LSS has also prevented advocacy visitors to Ray… prevented peer support… prevented visits to disability advocates… sent out letters via their lawyers to try to stop human rights alerts and videos to help Ray’s campaign…
LSS receives an immense amount of government funds for their services. While prominently using the name of the Lutheran Church, the Lutheran Church itself emphasizes they have absolutely no supervision over the activities of LSS.
Public position on Ray Sandford’s forced outpatient electroshock: Says they will not speak out publicly on a client, but they have never opposed Ray’s forced electroshock in any material MindFreedom has seen, and have openly and frequently opposed Ray’s campaign for his human rights.
Public position in general on outpatient involuntary electroshock over expressed wishes of subject: Representatives of LSS have said they are aware this abuse is “not uncommon” but have never spoken out against it, in any material known to MindFreedom.
IMPORTANT NOTE:MindFreedom and Ray endorse nonviolence principles. Even if an individual or agency opposes Ray’s human rights, MindFreedom and Ray ask that any communication be civil.
You may contact Eric Jonsgaard at:
Or use this web contact form at the LSS web site:
You may write here:
Eric Jonsgaard, Senior Director
LSS Guardianship Options
590 Park St, #310
St Paul, MN 55103 USA
Links to info on MindFreedom web site regarding Eric Jonsgaard:
Web site for LSS Guardianship Options:
Here is the reply ELCA has been sending to many people who have expressed concern about Ray, that Ms. Jonsgaard helped write:
Statement from Evangelical Lutheran Church in America [ELCA] About Campaign Against Forced Electroshock of Ray Sandford
Date: December 16, 2008 7:36:03 AM PST
Thank you for writing concerning a story you have heard or seen in the public media. The ELCA is not related to the situation, except as a sponsor of Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota, one of 280 such organizations in the Lutheran Services in America network. Sponsorship is a fairly loose term from a churchwide perspective, and usually means that people in the area of the affiliated agency represent the church on the agency’s board, and individuals and congregations may also contribute some funding to the agency.
Here is a response from Lutheran Services in America which explains the situation about which you are concerned:
To respond to your inquiry and comments regarding a recent story about the medical situation of a vulnerable adult under a civil commitment proceeding, who also has a court appointed guardian:
As a guardian, Lutheran Social Service has both a legal and ethical duty to keep the specific details of clients’ care and treatment confidential. While we can’t discuss the client specifically, we can speak in general about how we carry out our work.
Lutheran Social Service is appointed by the court to serve as a guardian or conservator to over 800 vulnerable adults in Minnesota. We are court-appointed to take on this role when individuals lack the capacity to make decisions about their affairs and there are no family members who are either able or willing to take on that responsibility.
A civil commitment is a separate proceeding in the State of Minnesota. When a person is civilly committed, a decision to impose electroconvulsive therapy (“ECT”) is a decision made by a commitment court and not the court appointed Guardian. In the commitment process someone, normally a health care professional, brings a petition for ECT treatment for the individual. The individual is assigned an attorney and a guardian ad litem (not Lutheran Social Service) who act as advocates either to oppose or to consent to the petition. The commitment court hears evidence from medical professionals and then makes a decision on whether to impose the ECT treatment. The court decision is then appealable by the client and the client’s attorney. Under Minnesota Statute §524.5-313, a general guardian such as Lutheran Social Service has no authority to impose ECT treatment against the known conscientious, religious or moral beliefs of the individual. The general guardian is not a participant in the civil commitment process regarding the forced imposition of ECT treatment.
Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota has a long tradition of serving vulnerable children and adults, and careful systems are in place to ensure that decisions are made with the person’s best interest in mind.
Eric Jonsgaard, Senior Director
LSS Guardianship Options
I hope this helps you understand the situation, and that you will tell whoever suggested that writing to the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America might help make a difference that they are misdirecting you and many other people.
Miriam L. Woolbert
ELCA Communication Services
To read MindFreedom’s rebuttal and response to Mr. Jonsgaard and Ms. Woolbert’s statement, click here: