Friday, December 18, 2009

No more "degrading" shackles

Calling the widespread shackling of juveniles in court "repugnant, degrading [and] humiliating," the Florida Supreme Court issued a new rule Thursday that forbids the restraint of juvenile offenders unless a judge finds that the youth is likely to be violent.

. . . The new rules reverse a long-standing practice in many courthouses -- including Broward and Palm Beach counties -- of permitting juvenile defendants to be handcuffed and leg-shackled for all court appearances, regardless of whether they are believed to be dangerous.

In Broward County, Public Defender Howard Finkelstein said, juveniles facing a court appearance are "paraded" through the courthouse in shackles.

. . . "While I agree that juveniles should not be chained to one another in the courtroom or restrained in any other way that would interfere with their ability to have meaningful access to counsel," [said Justice Charles T.] Canady . . .

Many of the juvenile offenders are in trouble because they lack any sense of guilt or morality.

There's nothing wrong with teaching them to feel embarrassment and shame.

Isn't that the rehabilitative purpose of the juvenile justice system?

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