Issue Brief-Ending the Indiscriminate Shackling of Youth

In juvenile courts throughout the nation, children arrive, face full hearings, and depart weighed down by handcuffs, leg irons, and belly chains. They appear this way not because they pose a threat to others in the courtroom or are a flight risk but because most jurisdictions indiscriminately shackle all youth in juvenile court, often without any probable cause finding that they have committed an offense. The practice of indiscriminately shackling youth in the courtroom is problematic for a number of reasons: (1) it impacts the attorney-client relationship by impeding communication between a child and his or her attorney; (2) it runs directly counter to the rehabilitative goals of the juvenile justice system; (3) it clouds the presumption of innocence and chills due process; (4) it erodes the dignity of the court; and (5) it is humiliating and has the potential to harm the normal and appropriate development of youth.

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Categories: Gault Center Publications, Policy Tool, Resource Library
Tags: Shackling