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Friday, January 29, 2016

Delaware Shackling Kids In Court

Push to End Shackling of Juveniles
(Information in this item comes from this January 23 News Journal article.)
Should juvenile defendants automatically be shackled in metal leg irons when they enter a ‪‎Delaware courtroom? Rep. J.J. Johnson says this is an arcane practice that needs to stop, especially considering that adult defendants typically are not shackled during trial so it doesn't influence juries.
Crimes range from drug possession and theft to gun charges and rape. All are in state custody because they cannot afford to post bail. All are presumed innocent until proven guilty.
Rep. Johnson is sponsoring HB 211, which would limit the use of shackles except in rare circumstances where the court can show that restraints are necessary to prevent flight or physical harm to the child or others. Nearly half of all states have ended this practice in the United States. In January 2014, the National Juvenile Defender Center, a nonprofit in Washington, D.C., launched a nationwide campaign to end indiscriminate juvenile shackling.
Defense attorneys and child advocates say this daily scene in Family Court is grisly – youth are restrained and left traumatized by a criminal justice system that is supposed to rehabilitate, not punish, them.
“People are realizing that the things we have done in the past have not worked and should be changed,” Rep. Johnson said. “This is one of the changes that should be made.”

Delaware House Democrats
411 Legislative Avenue
Dover, DE 19901

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