D.C. To Stop Routinely Shackling Juvenile Defendants In Court


Washington, D.C., will end a policy of routinely shackling juveniles who appear before judges, the Washington Post reports. Beginning Monday, individual judges will be solely responsible for deciding whether juveniles appearing before them should be in two-pound metal shackles. The reasons for shackling a juvenile could range from noncompliance with orders to being disruptive. Defense attorneys have called for the shackles to be removed, but court officials and judges have repeatedly argued against removing the shackles, saying the restraints ensure safety.

The changes are part of an initiative led by D.C. Council members Kenyan McDuffie, chairman of the Judiciary Committee, and David Grosso and Attorney General Karl Racine. All three are expected to announce the initiative today. At least 12 states have banned the practice of indiscriminate shackling of juvenile offenders. D.C. is the only place in the country where U. S. marshals escort juvenile defendants. In other places, youth rehabilitation service officials, sheriffs deputies or police officers transport and oversee young defendants.

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