The National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges wants to stop the indiscriminate shackling of youth in juvenile courts, reports the Juvenile Justice Information Exchange. “I cannot think of a more fundamental right of due process and basic human dignity than for a child to be able to face a juvenile court judge without shackles unless there is a true safety concern for the child or participants in court,” said Darlene Byrne, the group's president.
The group is the latest to oppose the practice, citing concerns for children's health and development, as well as their due process rights. The policy statements have rolled in along with a growing momentum to create state laws against the shackling of juveniles. David Shapiro of the Campaign Against Indiscriminate Juvenile Shackling, housed at the National Juvenile Defender Center, said the group's position is a huge win. “We hear from judges that they don't think they are the ones who are in charge of their own courtrooms, and this makes it clear that they are,” he said. Twenty-one states have a law, court rule, court opinion or statewide policy that limits the shackling of juveniles in court at some stage of court proceedings. The other 29 have no written guidance, nor does the federal government.