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Overall: Frequently Asked Questions on Ray Sandford Campaign

[Updated 5 June 2010] Here are answers to frequently asked questions about the successful MindFreedom campaign to support Ray Sandford and end his involuntary outpatient electroshocks in Minnesota.


Ray Sandford is a survivor of involuntary outpatient electroshock.

FAQ Updated 5 June 2010


Every Day for Ray is Victory Day!


Ray is a Minnesota resident who was regularly receiving "Involuntary Outpatient Maintenance Electroshock." At Ray's request, MindFreedom launched and international campaign, and ended Ray's forced electroshock. Ray won!

Ray's last forced electroshock was 15 April 2009, so for more than a year Ray has proven the mental health system every single day. Those giving Ray forced electroshock said he had to have the procedure against his will regularly to survive. So every day Ray does well without his forced electroshock, he proves he was right and the mental health system was wrong.



WHAT IS STATUS OF RAY SANDFORD'S CAMPAIGN?


5 June 2010:  Ray continues to do great, phoning the office about once a week to check in, more than one year after his last forced electroshock. Recently he was glad to hear that his past court-appointed attorney would be different for an upcoming routine re-commitment. But he remains free of forced electroshock.

15 April 2010: One year after his last forced electroshock, Ray is doing great! Though the taxpayers may want to reflect on just how much of their money is being wasted by bullying mental health authorities who are continuing to do forced electroshock to other US citizens.

18 February 2010: Ray continues to "thrive," as a friend describes him. Ray has moved into a better place.

Ray continues to enjoy getting stationery supplies and cards from people. If you wish to write to him his new address is:

    Ray Sandford
    1518 Scheffer Ave.
    St. Paul MN 55116

22 October 2009: Victory! It is official. After more than 40 involuntary, outpatient electroshocks (also known as electroconvulsive therapy or ECT), Ray has won. The court has agreed to his change of guardianship.

For more info on this news, see Ray Alert #22.

15 April 2009: Because of the MindFreedom campaign, "tax day" was Ray's last forced electroshock. By coincidence, it's also the date of the world's first known electroshock -- which was also administered involuntarily -- in 1938 in Italy.


History of the Campaign


The rest of this Frequently Asked Questions is from during the campaign. Of course, the campaign is over, and Ray has won, people can stop taking the recommended actions, and celebrate. To understand how the campaign was won, here is its history....



September 2009: MindFreedom submitted a petition opposing Ray Sandford's forced electroshock to Ray Sandford, because of organizing work by MFI member Felice Eliscu. To see the petition, click here.

10 August 2009: Minnesota State Legislature scheduled a public hearing for today on the topic of electroshock of Minnesota residents who are committed. Ray submitted a signed statement which you may read by clicking here. A source credits Ray's campaign for the hearing .

6 August 2009: Ray called to say his new psychiatrist has been officially approved by the mental health system. The new psychiatrist opposes forced electroshock.

For more info on this news, see Ray Alert #21.

Ray has already successfully changed his attorney. Now he is seeking to change his guardianship service.

And Ray is still riding a great boost of publicity, when the weekly newspaper in Twin Cities called City Pages ran a front page story about Ray and his forced electroshock. The article tells both sides of the story, and dramatically brings the reader along with Ray on his forced electroshock.

To read the City Pages article, click here.

To see the provocative City Pages full-page cover illustration (showing a psychiatrist wielding jumper cables) click here.

Ray was last scheduled for a surprise involuntary electroshock on 13 May 2009, but at the very last minute his shock was postponed. To read alert #20 click here.

Associated Press ran an article on 10 May 2009 giving the Ray Campaign more national coverage, though mainly quoting experts who refused to speak out for Ray. The AP article is being picked up by many newspapers, including UK Guardian, Philadelphia Inquirer, USA Today and others.

To read the Associated Press article click here.

MindFreedom International held peaceful "May Day for Ray" protests inside the Minnesota State Capitol Rotunda and elsewhere from 1 to 3 May 2009. For a report click here:

http://www.mindfreedom.org/shield/ray/no-forced-ect

This all means, Ray's last involuntary outpatient maintenance electroshock was on Wednesday, 15 April 2009, which was USA Tax Day. He has had more than 40. May this always be his last electroshock.


MindFreedom members have researched more than two dozens individuals and groups involved in Ray's life that receive taxpayer funding, directly or indirectly. A few are helping Ray. But most stayed silent, or directly profiting from Ray's forced electroshock.

Ray's Web of Link$ is here:

http://www.mindfreedom.org/ray-sandford-minnesota

For more in-depth updates, and a snapshot of the information about Ray, please go to the Gateway to Ray's Campaign. This one web page organizes an overview of links to info about Ray, including National Public Radio and other media coverage, YouTube video, blog, alerts and more:

http://www.mindfreedom.org/ray


WHAT'S RAY'S STORY IN BRIEF?


On many Wednesdays mornings, Ray was woken up early in his room in his group facility called Victory House in Columbia Heights, Minnesota, adjacent to Minneapolis, Minnesota. Under court order, he was administered involuntary electroshock.

He was escorted the 15 miles to Mercy Hospital. There he is put under anesthesia, electrodes are placed on his head, and he receives Electroconvulsive Therapy or ECT, also known as electroshock.

Like all other USA states, Minnesota has loopholes allowing citizens to receive electroshock over their expressed wishes.

Ray says the forced electroshock is "scary as hell." He absolutely opposes having the procedure. He says it's causing poor memory for names such as of friends and his favorite niece.

"What am I supposed to do, run away?" Ray asked.



HOW OLD IS RAY?


Ray was born 4 January 1954, so at the time of his last forced electroshock on 15 April 2009, he was 55.


IS RAY A CRIMINAL? IS HE VIOLENT?


No. And no. Ray is not a criminal. Throughout his campaign no one has called him violent, though court records allege he was violent when he was in a psychiatric institution early 2008.

We have found no evidence of Ray being charged or convicted with any actual crimes, at least for many years. Perhaps in years past he had brushes with law, but we have not heard of anything for many years.

His mother has confirmed this. Ray is not a criminal.

If anyone knows differently let us know.

Ray lives peacefully in a group home. He is not violent. In fact, he identifies himself as religious, and Christian. He wants the shock to end legally. Even though he is large, he is not using physical force to refuse to go to the forced shock. He makes his wish known verbally that he does not want forced electroshock.

We have not heard any reports of Ray being violent, at least for years.

This is one of the most common questions. A question back: If Ray had broken a law, does anyone think forced electroshock would be okay? It would be cruel and unusual punishment!

But to repeat, Ray is living peacefully at home. That's why he's allowed to live out in the community! He is not in forensic division. He is not a currently in the criminal justice system.


WHAT WAS MENTAL HEALTH SYSTEM'S REASON FOR FORCIBLY SHOCKING RAY?


It's hard to tell.

Of course, not all psychologists and psychiatrists support Ray's forced electroshock. In fact, quite a number of concerned mental health professionals have spoken out, and even protested on behalf of Ray.

Here's an article by Al Galves, PhD, a psychologist and author who is on the board of MindFreedom, about why he cared so deeply about the Ray campaign that he flew to Minnesota to protest:

http://www.mindfreedom.org/shield/ray/al-galves-on-ray-sandford

Ray has been in and out of the mental health system  for more than 30 years, with a diagnosis of "bipolar." Ray admits he has had severe and overwhelming mental and emotional problems.

But he says the shock is making him worse, and causing him great pain and suffering.

One main reason Ray is electroshocked is because of the current mental health system tends not to offer many alternatives to the old-fashioned "medical model" of drugs and shock, even though many alternatives have been proven to work, including peer support, counseling, supported housing, jobs programs, nutrition, exercise, community independent living centers, etc.

According to his mother, the mental health system mainly tried psychiatric drugs on Ray, and when those didn't work they turned to electroshock. Apparently, other alternatives have not been offered to Ray and his family beyond psychiatric drugs and shock. 

He is not being forcibly shocked for any criminal justice reasons. According to more than one authority, Ray has no serious criminal convictions, at least for the past number of years.

But a question back to those asking this: Do you conceive of a circumstance where it is okay to forcibly electroshock someone over their expressed wishes?

MindFreedom's position on extremely intrusive and potentially irreversible procedures is that "No always means no," whatever the circumstance.

The bottom line is, there is no good reason to forcibly electroshock anyone, at any time. It is inherently intrusive, traumatic and brain damaging. Despite his experiences, Ray remains crystal clear that he does not want his forced electroshock, and he wants to tell the world. Especially, forcibly shocking someone out in the community makes everyone even in their own homes unsafe.


WHO PROFITED FROM RAY'S FORCED ELECTROSHOCK?


Ray has been surrounded by an astounding number of agencies, organizations and individuals who are in some way receiving taxpayer funding.

MindFreedom launched Ray's Web of Links to help you keep track. Find out who to thank. Find out who to peacefully ask to support Ray's rights. Click here:

http://www.mindfreedom.org/ray-sandford-minnesota

One of the main entities to profit from Ray's forced electroshock is the enormous medical company Allina.



WHAT ABOUT THE PEOPLE AND GROUPS IN MINNESOTA WHO ARE SUPPOSED TO PROTECT RAY?


Ray is actually surrounded by an astounding number of individuals, groups and agencies in Minnesota who receive some form of taxpayer funding, and are supposed to protect Ray.

Some are supporting Ray's rights, some are opposing his campaign, others are staying silent.

For a growing of individuals and groups in Minnesota that receive some form of taxpayer funding, and who MindFreedom has contacted about Ray, click here:

http://www.mindfreedom.org/ray-sandford-minnesota

Many people ask about the American Civil Liberties Union. MindFreedom has assisted Ray to go through a lengthy process to fill out forms and request help from the ACLU. This is especially difficult for folks like Ray who have cognitive disabilities, and do not have easy access to photocopy, envelopes, post office boxes, etc.

However, Ray did successfully file a request for ACLU help. ACLU Minnesota head Chuck Samuelson has cautioned that they get hundreds of requests, and only take on a few cases. So far ACLU has not taken on Ray's case.


DOES RAY EAT HIS OWN FECES?


There is a totally false, horrible rumor that, "The electroshock is because Ray eats his feces."

This rumor arose because of a misunderstanding about the National Public Radio report. Here is the actual story of a one-time event, from long ago, confirmed by Ray's mother and Ray:

Several years ago Ray was inside a psychiatric institution solitary confinement tied in restraints. He was extremely upset by his mistreatment. Ray said he could not get the staff's attention through the little window in the door. They would totally ignore him.

Ray came up with a strategy to attract attention, and at that point he did "play" with his feces. He even pretended to eat it, but he emphatically says he did not actually do so. Ray has said many times about his strategy, "It worked." He said staff immediately came in and got him out of restraints.

We may disagree with Ray's approach in this story, and clearly Ray was experiencing severe mental and emotional problems, but it was years ago.

When asked if he ever does anything like that now or in the last few years, he says, "My goodness no!" Ray's mother has recently confirmed this, including by asking staff and checking his record.

Even an abused animal in a zoo will turn to such outrageous behavior, but even in this case he was not dangerous. This story is now being used to dehumanize Ray, but someone with deep empathy could perhaps for a moment imagine the overwhelming distress that may lead someone to do such an act.

This is the worst the mental health system has been able to come up with about Ray, to justify their abuse.

The bottom line is, this incident from years ago cannot and should not be used to justify Ray's ongoing forced electroshock today.

In fact, nothing would justify such an intrusive procedure against someone's will, which amounts to torture. Forced electroshock is worse than waterboarding, which has now been banned by the USA even against alleged terrorists.


CAN I READ THE LEGAL AND MEDICAL FILES ABOUT RAY'S FORCED ELECTROSHOCK?


Certainly, you can read the court order for the forced shock. It's been a public document.

In June 2008, a judge ruled that Ray could be forcibly electroshocked against his will. Ray thought this would mean a few electroshocks, but as he says it has now gone on forever. To down a PDF of the June 2008 court order against Ray, click here.

In December 2008, this court order was reaffirmed.

But what about viewing medical and other records? That's a problem. His general guardians LSSMN and his court-appointed attorney have refused to cooperate with the campaign for Ray, and have even put up obstacles to Ray's campaign against his forced electroshock.

Ray himself has some of this material, such as a record of expenses on some of his care. However, Ray himself has severe cognitive problems, and is unable to get out much to make photocopies. Even signing and dropping a form to the ACLU was difficult. Poignantly, Ray remembered he does pass a postal box: The one in front of Mercy Hospital on his way to forced electroshock!

Also, visits to Ray have been severely restricted, and it's very difficult to even meet with Ray to look over his own materials.

The mental health system may claim Ray has been de-institutionalized and is in a community assisted living center, but in many ways Ray's rights are as severely limited as if he were in a back ward. In these circumstances, it's difficult to actually view his records, materials, etc.



HOW DID MINDFREEDOM GET INVOLVED?


Ray asked us to do something!

After months of forced electroshock, Ray got desperate. Ray phoned his local public library's reference desk and asked about human rights groups. The reference librarian referred him to MindFreedom International.

Ray called David W. Oaks, Executive Director of MindFreedom International,  in late October. "At first I did not believe him," said David. "I know that Involuntary Outpatient Electroshock -- or IOE -- was theoretically possible, but Ray sounded so clear, I wondered how it could be true."

MindFreedom International has documented proven cases of electroshock against the expressed wishes of the subject all over the world inside institutions, including in the USA. MindFreedom succeeded in having the United Nations World Health Organization call in writing for a global ban on all involuntary electroshock.

David Oaks confirmed Ray's story by calling two staff at Victory House as well as his court-appointed  conservator, Tonya Wilhelm of Luthern Support Services of Minnesota.

Ms. Wilhelm said, "We are following the letter of the law." She said the State of Minnesota had secured a variety of court orders that require Ray to have forced electroshock against his expressed wishes. Ms. Wilehlm says it's all legal and she can't do anything about it.

Krista Erickson, chair of MindFreedom's Shield Campaign, sees it differently. "This is terrible. This is a serious human rights violation that should stop. I hope MindFreedom members and supporters speak out. Even if Minnesota is following the letter of the current law, the law ought to be changed. And Ray has not had the legal power to appeal to higher courts."

Ray has made it clear throughout his campaign that he totally supports MindFreedom's efforts to reach the public and influence the Governor. Ray supports MindFreedom's use of his full legal name, and he willingly posed for a volunteer for a photograph for the MindFreedom web site. For personal reasons, involving his fear that he will lose housing and benefits, Ray has been more cautious with media, sometimes only using his first name or a pseudonym. That is his choice. He continues to support the MFI Ray Campaign, and he is in charge of it.


WHAT IS THE POSITION OF STATE OF MINNESOTA ON THIS?


Where does Minnesota Governor Timothy Pawlenty -- who has spoken out for "limited government" -- stand on involuntary electroshock? Unfortunately, the Governor's office simply tells people that the law is being followed, that a court has ordered Ray's forced shock, and they can do nothing.

But what about securing better legal representation for Ray? Why wasn't Ray's forced electroshock appealed? 

And what is the Governor's policy position on the whole subject of involuntary outpatient electroshock? The Governor calls for changing laws all the time, why not about involuntary outpatient electroshock?

In any case, why are many phone calls to the Governor's office from what they say are "hundreds of people" mainly routed into a voice mail -- and never answered? Why do some receptionists in the Governor's office hang up on some callers asking about Ray?

Taxpayers are paying for Ray's electroshocks, including the more than a dozen personnel -- such as conservator, guardian, judge, psychiatrist, court-appointed attorney, anethesiologist, attendants and more -- who surround Ray. Other proven alternatives beyond psychiatric drugs and electroshock tend not to get as much funding.

The national media speculates that Governor Pawlenty may have higher political aspirations. He has campaigned for a "get government off our backs" philosophy. He has been Governor since 2002.

So shouldn't he at least answer some simple questions about one of the worst case scenarios in mental health? If you politely insist and persist, you can now reach a staff person who will discuss involuntary electroshock, but who argues that Governor Pawlenty can do nothing. That's not true. He can at least speak out about the need to change the law.

Even the Governor's Director of Communciations, Brian McClung (phone: (651) 296-0001) refuses to comment on the controversial subject.

WHAT IS INVOLUNTARY OUTPATIENT MAINTENANCE ELECTROSHOCK?


From the Back Ward to Your Front Porch!

Involuntary outpatient electroshock (IOE) is part of a trend to bring the power of forced psychiatric procedures out into the community.

Your home is no longer your castle... it can become your ward. For example, most USA states have quietly passed laws allowing individuals living at home to be court ordered to take powerful psychiatric drugs against their will. It was only a matter of time until such outpatient coercion included electroshock.

Electroshock itself has made a comeback throughout the USA, and internationally, without adequate human rights protection.

Ray is receiving so-called "maintenance" ongoing weekly electroshock over his expressed wishes while living at home. Falsely believing "new improved" electroshock is safe, the mental health system is at times administering more than 100 "maintenance" electroshocks to a single individual over months and years.

This could happen to Ray. Even his mother, who is a retired nurse who used to administer involuntary electroshocks back in the 1950's, is concerned by the sheer number of forced shocks he has received.

This could happen to anyone.

This could happen to you or a loved one.

The mental health system today has a lot of "buzz words" like empowerment, self-determination, advocacy, recovery, peer support, transformation, consumer-run, trauma-informed care.

How real are buzz words, when Ray Sandford gets forced outpatient electroshock each week?

For plenty of more information on electroshock itself, click here:

http://www.mindfreedom.org/search?SearchableText=electroshock


HAVE THE MEDIA COVERED THIS?


Once the public hears about involuntary electroshock they tend to be outraged. But if the public never hears about it, how will they ever know?

The main media coverage so far has been National Public Radio, which ran Ray's story nationally to an estimated 2 million listeners.

Here is a list of stories, including the 15 December 2008 NPR story.


HOW MAY I READ ALL THE MFI ALERTS ABOUT RAY?


Here they are in chronological order from the start.


IS THE CAMPAIGN HAVING AN IMPACT?


Ray's campaign has won a series of small steps, leading to some bigger steps.

As of August 2009, it looks like he's winning.


Some Ray Campaign Small Steps:


Within days of MindFreedom launching its Ray Campaign on 7 November 2008 to stop the weekly involuntary outpatient electroshock of Ray Sandford, his doctor has decided to "skip a Wednesday."

Ray was then put on a complicated schedule of every other week, followed by every third week, and then back to every other week.

Ray was then put on an "every 30 day" schedule.

Ray received his 35th involuntary electroshock on 10 December 2008. This was also International Human Rights Day, and a special one at that: It was the 60th Anniversary of the signing of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

He received his 36th involuntary electroshock approximately Christmas Eve.

Meanwhile, the Governor's office refuses to assist in any way, though they admit that "hundreds" of people have contacted them.

An example of the poor response from the Governor's office is that a number of calls were redirected to the Minnesota Department of Human Rights. At first that sounds good. But this office says it is only focused on determining whether narrow discrimination complaints are legally valid. A spokesperson said this department makes no statements about policy.

The Minnesota human rights agency did hold a major one-day human rights conference and forum on 5 December. One barrier was the "forum" costs $200, keynoted by the nationally-known civil rights activist Kweisi Mfume.

For information on this Minn. Dept. of Human Rights, and their "forum," click here:

http://www.mindfreedom.org/shield/ray/minnesota-human-rights-conference

MindFreedom activists, members and allies have continued to do what they can. 

On Friday, 21 November, disability advocates met with Ray at the Minnesota Center for Independent Living. Ray told advoctates he very much supports this campaign.

During the meeting a teleconference was held with MindFreedom President Celia Brown in New York City and MindFreedom Director David Oaks in Oregon. Celia interviewed Ray so that MindFreedom could file a human rights complaint under a new process with a United Nations Special Rapporteur. The complaint was filed with the United Nations on 25 November 2008. 

Because of recent developments, some types of severe psychiatric abuse may now be considered torture by the UN.

One of the best results of the campaign is that at least three agencies successfully sought  to replace Ray's court-appointed attorney, Jon Duckstad, who has been almost totally non-responsive to multiple polite e-mails and phone calls from MindFreedom International. Mr. Duckstad has continued to refuse any offer of free help from a number of attorneys with experience about forced electroshock who would like to offer technical assistance.

Ray did get finally a new attorney to replace Jon Duckstad.

For a while this was very difficult. It would mean simply replacing Mr. Duckstad with another from the local pool of court-appointed attorneys! Ray has had experience with a number of these attorneys, and does not think any would be any better than Mr. Duckstad. In the end, faced with this limited choice, Ray chose to let Mr. Duckstad represent again in the 16 December hearing, because at least Mr. Duckstad knew Ray.

Unfortunately, Mr. Duckstad did not call any independent expert witnesses on Ray's behalf at the 16 December hearing, which was held in an undignified setting in a hospital basement, according to several eye witnesses. The judge ruled against Ray, again, and his forced shocks continue.

Ray continues to be very dissatisfied with his legal representation, of course.

Ray's lack of adequate legal assistance is one more indication of his powerlessness. Poor legal representation is very common among those with psychiatric diagnoses who get court-appointed attorneys. An inside source states that even the judge's in that area are dissatisfied with the quality of the panel of court-appointed attorneys there.

The Governor's office and others continue to say that this is a matter for the courts. But the courts have totally let Ray down.

You may read some of the many public comments that have been e-mailed to the Governor at tim.pawlenty@state.mn.us here:

http://www.mindfreedom.org/shield/ray/sandford-support-letters

You can also keep up with some of the latest developments about the Ray Campaign on the MindFreedom blog by MindFreedom director David Oaks, here:

http://www.mindfreedom.org/mfi-blog



WHAT ABOUT RAY'S LEGAL REPRESENTATION?



Finally, Ray has a lawyer who is responsive to him, his family and advocates.

But it took the family finally hiring an attorney.

The court-appointed attorney Jon Duckstad, who is no longer Ray's attorney, did a terrible job, according to Ray and multiple witnesses.

Poor and marginalized people in the mental health system tend to have horrible legal representation. With some exceptions, often the court-appointed attorney talks to people like Ray just for minutes before hand, and has a paternalistic attitude. In other words, many court-appointed attorneys do not adequately fight, and fight hard, for their clients.

There was an effort for months to find an Twin Cities area attorney who will volunteer to take on Ray's case.

Unfortunately this effort has failed. MindFreedom and allies have approached many attorneys, including members of the Minnesota branch of the National Lawyers Guild, but none have taken on case.

In May 2009, Chuck Samuelson, director of the Minnesota branch of the American Civil Liberties Union, after evaluating Ray's case, refused to take it on. This is partly because even though Ray's attorney Jon Duckstad did not adequately fight hard for Ray, he did apparently 'dot his i's' and 'crossed his t's,' legally, so it may be difficult to argue that Ray had incompetent representation by the legal definition.

Leonard Roy Frank, long-time activist and shock survivor, has issued this statement about Ray's quest to find a decent attorney:

"Attorneys, for money or pro bono, will rush to represent defendants in well-publicized cases, sometimes involving the most heinous crimes. But even after considerable national coverage, not one of them has stepped forward to offer his or her services in defense of Ray Sanford, an innocent human being under conservatorship in Minnesota, who has already undergone more than 40 court-ordered electroconvulsive 'treatments' (ECTs) administered weekly – against his will - and who is now apparently being set up for an unspecified number of additional brain-damaging electrical assaults. He needs to be represented by a courageous and capable attorney. Is there someone out there willing and able to help Ray Sanford end this nightmare?"


WHAT'S THE MAIN ACTION I CAN TAKE TODAY?


Please tell all your friends and colleagues about this campaign, and that they can go to this gateway for more information:

http://www.mindfreedom.org/ray



WHAT ELSE CAN WE DO?


1) Please forward this public alert to supporters of human rights on and off Internet with an encouragement to act *NOW*!

2) Join!

There's a reason MindFreedom International has broken the silence on this issue:

Independent united activism.

To support MindFreedom and this campaign please join, renew early or donate today, click here:

http://www.mindfreedom.org/join-donate

Once you join MindFreedom, current members can apply to get on the MindFreedom electroshock campaign e-mail list called ZAPBACK where the Ray campaign is coordinated internationally. Once you're an MFI member sign up on ZAPBACK here:

http://www.intenex.net/lists/listinfo/mindfreedom-zapback

3) Visit or write to Ray:

Ray is receiving letters and packages successfully at this time.

His new address as of February 2010:

    Ray Sandford
    1518 Scheffer Ave.
    St. Paul MN 55116


Please do not write to Ray at his old address. Ray's old address was:


Victory House
4427 Monroe St.
Columbia Heights, MN 55421-2880 USA


4) Nonviolent protest


Several individuals and groups are contacting MindFreedom with interest in holding peaceful protests both in Minnesota, and also wherever they live in solidarity. Please contact the MindFreedom office if you are interested, and if possible get on the MindFreedom zapback list above to help coordinate actions if you are interested.


5) Engage your local religious organizations in dialogue on human rights and mental health


Ray has given us all an opportunity to encourage our local faith-based communities to address the justice issues involved in mental health care today.

Ask that your local church, synagogue, mosque, etc. find a way to raise issues about human rights and mental health.

Those in the USA may also seek to engage in dialogue with participants and leaders in your local ELCA church, which you may easily locate here:

http://www.elca.org/ELCA/Search/Find-a-Congregation.aspx


6) Garrison Keillor is a progressive cultural leader with close ties to Minnesota (and a sense of humor about Lutherans). Join an online campaign to Let Mr. Keillor know about Ray, click here:

http://www.mindfreedom.org/kb/mental-health-arts/humor/garrison-keillor


7) Please write to President Barack Obama about this abuse of Ray, and your personal story if any about the mental health system today.

Full contact information for President Obama can be found here:

http://www.whitehouse.gov/contact/


SINCE RAY IS AN OUTPATIENT IN A GROUP HOME, WHY DOESN'T HE JUST ESCAPE?



You are correct that forced psychiatric intervention on an "outpatient" basis does have a weak link: Some people in this situation simply leave the area of the forced procedure, or even the state. One of the crusaders for forced outpatient treatment, psychiatrist E. Fuller Torrey, is aware of this vulnerability in outpatient forced procedures and has even called for a national federal "extradition" law to try to return escapees back over state line! Thankfully, he has been unsuccessful so far.

While MindFreedom does not have an underground railroad, MindFreedom has assisted individuals receiving involuntary outpatient procedures to publicize their alerts. These have a times resulted in the individual building their own underground railroad, and escaping forced outpatient procedures. For instance, Gabriel ("Gabe") Hadd is a young man who escaped his forced psychiatric outpatient drugging in Michigan this way, and he credits MindFreedom for supporting his goals of freedom. The Wall St. Journal gave his story national coverage.

However, the bottom line is that Ray is in charge of his own campaign. Ray is captain of his own ship here. And Ray has chosen not to flee. Ray has multiple reasons -- including family connections, housing, benefits, friends, cognitive impairment from shock, and more -- for wanting to stay where he has lived for many years. He feels he should not have to flee in order to have his human rights. 

One more thing about people "escaping" outpatient forced psychiatry: Just as when a spouse escapes domestic abuse, more is needed than just a bus ticket away from the scene. Often, an individual has special physical and mental support needs, as well as needed advocacy to transfer benefits, and much more. In other words, a whole safety net is needed in a "landing zone" for someone who chooses to create an "underground railroad." If you and your community are interested in creating such a place, you may want to consider it.

But the bottom line is on this campaign: Ray wants to stay where he is, and nonviolently fight for his human rights.



CAN'T RAY'S FAMILY PROTECT HIM?


Ray's mother has had primary responsibility for Ray for many years. His Mom has told MindFreedom that since she is now elderly, she has been unable to continue to oversee Ray's care. This is why she supported Ray getting a "General Guardian," LSSMN.

Ray's mom has objected publicly and to his carers about the over-use of ongoing electroshock on Ray, however she said she has no say about this.

Ray's family have now hired him a better attorney, and are seeking to change Ray's guardianship.


MAY I HAVE A PHOTO OF RAY?


You may download a photo of Ray Sandford taken with his permission for the public by his friend Daryl Sandford, here:

http://www.mindfreedom.org/shield/ray/ray-sandford-electroshock


I HAVE LOTS MORE IDEAS AND QUESTIONS ABOUT THE RAY CAMPAIGN, CAN YOU RESPOND TO ME PERSONALLY?


Thanks for your interest in the campaign! Ray is getting a lot of interest from people with questions and suggestions.

While we read all feedback, and try to respond as much as possible, please read this:

It's best if you are very interested in helping to join MindFreedom and get on the ZAPBACK e-mail list, which is helping to coordinate the campaign. That way there can be a network approach to working on the campaign, rather than a centralized approach via the office. MindFreedom has limited resources. We count on your empowerment and self-determination to form a web with others in a mutually supportive way to build this campaign.

The office can't personally answer all questions in a centralized way. We may answer questions via updates of this FAQ, or ask volunteers to help answer questions. No guarantee of a reply, and volunteers do not necessarily officially represent MindFreedom.


WHAT IS THE TIMELINE ABOUT RAY'S CAMPAIGN TO STOP HIS FORCED SHOCK?


Here's a chronology of a few other activities involving Ray, from most recent on back:

  • 15 April 2010: One year anniversary of Ray's last forced electroshock. He continues to do well, checking in with the MindFreedom office. Every single day Ray is disproving the mental health system's claim that he had to have regular forced electroshocks to survive.
  • 22 October 2009: Ray Wins! Victory! Ray is very grateful to all supporters of the MindFreedom campaign to support Ray's human rights! You may now stop actions about Ray's forced shock, and celebrate!  For more info click here.
  • 6 August 2009: Ray called to say his new psychiatrist, who opposes forced electroshock, has been approved by the mental health system.
  • 24 June 2009: Ray is winning the battle for public support, but now the rubber hits the road. A friend of Ray updates us about Ray's efforts for a new lawyer, new psychiatrist, and new guardianship service. Ray's spirits are up. For the 24 June report from Ray's friend click here.
  • 29 May 2009: Ray's 'general guardian' Lutheran Social Service is again suddenly and without explanation canceling his appointment with a potentially new psychiatrist. His mother was supposed to go along on the appointment. LSS told the family they will not quit Ray's case, as they had thought.
  • 20 May 2009: City Pages, the main weekly newspaper in Twin Cities, runs a front-page cover story about Ray that brings reader along into his forced electroshock. To read it click here.
  • 13 May 2009: Ray was scheduled for another forced electroshock, but at literally the last minute it was "postponed."
  • 12 May 2009: Ray receives surprise news from Fola, a staff member at the assisted living facility where Ray lives called Victory House, that he is scheduled for another forced electroshock tomorrow.
  • 10 May 2009: Associated Press covers Ray's campaign, to read article click here.
  • 4 May 2009: Ray is supposed to have an exit interview with his psychiatrist Dean K. Knudson, who is quitting, and meet with a potentially new psychiatrist. LSS cancels both interviews claiming they want Ray's mother Marilyn present. However, Ray says this is a fabrication. Ray says Marilyn is out of state at this time, and in writing requested the new psychiatrist. LSS does not even require family members present for an interview with a psychiatrist.
  • 3 May 2009: That morning MindFreedom leaflets at Central Lutheran Church in Minneapolis, and a pastor tries to stop the leafleting. Later that day MindFreedom does skits and gives out flyers reaching more than a thousand people at the the famous and huge May Day Parade in Minneapolis/St. Paul.
  • 2 May 2009: MindFreedom holds strategy meeting, launches MindFreedom Twin Cities, then leaflets hundreds at NAMI's main state fundraiser about Ray.
  • 1 May 2009: MindFreedom holds a peaceful protest in the Minnesota State Capitol Rotunda to end Ray's forced electroshock. Click here for information.
  • 23 April 2009: Apparently LSS is also asking to "resign" from Ray's case, because of public pressure.
  • 15 April 2009: Ray received another forced electroshock on USA Tax Day. Because of public pressure, Ray's psychiatrist Dr. Knudson announced he plans to quit as Ray's psychiatrist.
  • 9 April 2009: MindFreedom issued Ray's Web of Links to list those involved in Ray's life who are in some way getting taxpayer funding, to see this list click here.
  • 7 April 2009: Ray meets with his psychiatrist Dean Knudson. Dr. Knudson confirms forced electroshock on 15 April, and says after that Ray will be on a 30 day schedule. Ray said the doctor appeared upset about receiving the letter from David Oaks, director of MindFreedom, dated 18 March (see below). Ray said Dr. Knudson seemed to imply that MindFreedom may be practicing without a license, but MindFreedom has not received any complaint from Dr. Knudson to that effect.
  • 18 March 2009: MindFreedom's director David Oaks writes to Ray's psychiatrist informing him of web video by Ray and his mom, begging for the forced shock to end. To download a PDF of the letter click here.
  • On 9 March 2009 Ray met with his psychiatrist, who has changed his frequency of electroshock to every 3 weeks, so his next two scheduled electroshocks are 25 March and 15 April.
  • 4 March 2009: Ray receives another forced electroshock.
  • February 2009: Ray receives two forced electroshocks during this month.
  • 28 January 2009: Ray's electroshock today is postponed.
  • 14 January 2009: Ray had another forced electroshock.
  • 13 January 2009: Ray meets with a neurologist Ray said he talked extensively about memory problems related to shock. However, according to Ray, the neurologist said that the psychiatrist could not be over-ridden, and Ray's forced electroshock continues.
  • 29 December 2008: Ray and his mother meets with his psychiatrist. Ray's mother, who is a retired psychiatric nurse, told the doctor that Ray is suffering from severe memory loss. He couldn't even remember where the garbage chute is in her home, though he's visited there for years. She argued Ray should not be on a regular maintenance forced electroshock. The psychiatrist said he would skip an electroshock every other shock (alternating between every-other-week and every-third-week). Ray and his mom are not satisfied, and want the forced shock to end.
  • 25 December 2008: Ray has a special message of appreciation after this electroshock to you all for speaking out and supporting him: "Thank you to people who take the time and effort to think about this. God bless. Happy holidays."
  • 16 December 2008: Ray had a hearing. Unfortunately, it was a very unfair hearing, with no independent expert witnesses called to speak on behalf of Ray.
  • 7 November 2008: First public alert is sent out about Ray.
  • 4 November 2008: MindFreedom investigation confirms Ray's story of forced electroshock and contacts the Governor for the first of many times.
  • 27 October 2008: After Ray contacts local library and asks for phone numbers of groups working on human rights and mental health, Ray then telephones the MindFreedom office today to let us know about his forced electroshock. MFI begins investigation.
  • June 2008: Court order for Ray's forced electroshock, to download a PDF of the court order click here.

Thank you again, everyone, for all your support and interest for Ray, and for human rights in mental health! Please spread the word!

This campaign will apparently take THOUSANDS of united people working together, we are counting on YOU as one of the leaders!

Keep up this campaign until Ray's forced electroshock stops, until he is provided with alternatives... and until there is a nonviolent revolution in the mental health system so this abuse never happens again!

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We are MFI



Ted Chabasinski

Ted received electroshock at the age of six, and spent 10 years of his youth locked up inside a state psychiatric institution. He became a psychiatric survivor movement leader in 1971, and later became an attorney. He has served on the board of MindFreedom International for several years. (Photo by Tom Olin)
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