The indiscriminate shackling of minors is widely recognized as being counterproductive and dehumanizing. It also impedes a minor’s right to participate in their own defense, as they cannot take notes.
“Shackling practices vary by county, but some judges have required shackling of every child entering a courtroom, regardless of the child’s age, the severity of the alleged offense, or the lack of any evidence that the child posed a threat to the security of anyone in the courtroom,” Era Laudermilk, deputy director of the Illinois Justice Project, a nonprofit group fighting the practice of shackling juveniles, wrote in a statement last week.
“Because our Supreme Court justices understand that indiscriminate shackling of children runs counter to the rehabilitative purpose of juvenile courts, all children will be treated humanely in Illinois courtrooms.”
“Putting boys and girls in leg irons and belly chains should only be done as a last resort,” the Illinois Justice Project statement continued. “It humiliates and traumatizes children and it is heartbreaking for their families.”
In 2015, the American Bar Association adopted a resolution calling for the end of indiscriminate juvenile shackling. Multiple other organizations, including the Association of Prosecuting Attorneys, the National Child Traumatic Stress Network, the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, and many others are calling for restrictions, the Illinois Justice Project notes.
Currently, 12 states ban the practice outright, while 10 other states have limits in place, the National Conference of State Legislatures reports.