Shackling kids in court may be limited

Most of Ohio’s juvenile courts always or frequently shackle kids during court proceedings but that practice may become more limited.

“Putting children in handcuffs, belly chains, and/or leg irons while in court causes psychological harm and ignores the mission of the juvenile justice system to rehabilitate young people,” said Shakyra Diaz, policy manager with the ACLU of Ohio, in a written statement. “Though it is unconstitutional to shackle adults in court without a specific reason, Ohio’s children are routinely shackled without justification or an individualized determination that restraints are necessary.”

The Ohio Supreme Court is proposing a change that would require local courts to adopt rules that creates a presumption against automatic shackling, Diaz said. “Unless a judge issues a finding that a specific child poses a risk of fleeing or harm to those in the courtroom, children should be allowed to appear in court in a dignified manner, free of restraints.”

The Supreme Court on Monday opened a comment period for people to weigh in on the proposal.

Twenty-three states and the District of Columbia already have prohibited automatic shackling in juvenile court, according to the ACLU.

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