Minnesota Disability Law Center

Every state has a federally-funded protection and advocacy agency to provide free help to people with disabilities who need it. In Minnesota it is Minnesota Disability Law Center (MDLC).


Minnesota Disability Law Center

MDLC is the federally-funded “protection and advocacy” agency in Minnesota, headed by Pamela Hoopes.

MDLC has announced on their web site home page that they are convening an “ECT Work Group” to address issues that have come up because of involuntary electroshock:


From the announcement:

For the past few months, MDLC has been working with an individual who objects to receiving court-ordered electroconvulsive therapy (ECT).  Publicity surrounding this controversial case generated vigorous public debate on the use of forced ECT.  To follow up on the policy issues raised,  MDLC and the Mental Health Consumer/Survivor Network of Minnesota (CSN) have formed a work group to explore possible policy and legislative changes to the use of ECT in Minnesota. In addition to MDLC and CSN, participants will include the Office of Ombudsman for Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities, commitment defense attorneys, medical professionals, and people who have received ECT, among others.  Background research is now proceeding, and the work group will convene after the current legislative session.

While this is a welcome development, MindFreedom is asking for immediate action, rather than wait the several weeks until the end of this legislative session, which is a little more than half-way over when this is written in early March. There is more than a month to go.

Where does MDLC stand on Ray’s abuse?

MindFreedom has requested that this agency speak out publicly against the forced electroshock of Ray Sandford, or — if they feel this violates his privacy — to speak out against outpatient involuntary electroshock over the expressed wishes of the subject in general.

On 7 April 2009, Pamela Hoopes, lead attorney for MDLC, issued the following public statement about involuntary electroshock:

As you know, the Minnesota Disability Law Center strongly supports self-determination and independence for people with disabilities. Forced ECT is a very serious event and should only be used in extreme circumstances with close adherence to both the form and substance of legal due process. Although Minnesota law now provides more due process protections than most states, we think that additional safeguards against misuse or abuse of ECT should be added. We have formed a work group to consider such changes.

While this is a step forward, MDLC needs to support a law banning 100 percent of all electroshock that is over and against the expressed wishes of the subject. Also, MindFreedom encourages MDLC to support the community organizing and systems change aspect of Ray’s campaign, without waiting for the end of the legislative session.

When the federally-funded Protection and Advocacy system started in the USA, many saw this as an opportunity for people diagnosed with psychiatric disabilities, and all disabilities, to finally receive free assistance for their empowerment and self-determination.

While the “P & A” system has indeed helped thousands of individuals with advocacy needs, they are also supposed to provide some level of “systems change” support — what might be called “community organizing” — to support the voice of mental health consumers and psychiatric survivors.

So when we heard about Ray Sandford’s forced electroshock we immediately contacted MDLC in November 2008 with high hopes.

MDLC’s mission statement from their web site: “MDLC’s mission is to advance the dignity, self-determination and equality of individuals with disabilities.”

Public position on Ray Sandford’s forced outpatient electroshock: Unknown.

Public position in general on outpatient involuntary electroshock over expressed wishes of subject: Has started work group to “explore possible policy and legislative changes to the use of ECT in Minnesota.” Calls for “additional safeguards.”

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.


Disclaimer: The information on this page is the opinion of the author, based on reports from Ray Sandford and allies, to the best of their knowledge. If there is any dispute of the facts, please let MindFreedom know.

You can ask MDLC yourself about their position regarding involuntary outpatient electroshock.

MDLC contact info:

Phone:  612-332-1441; 1-800-292-4150,

Fax:  612-334-5755;   TDD: 612-332-4668,

Mail:  MDLC; 430 1st Avenue N., Suite 300; Minneapolis,  MN  55401-1780 USA

E-mail:  mndlc@midmnlegal.org

The web site for MDLC is:


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