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  1. #1
    CT209's Avatar
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    Chaining up kids in court...

    http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/...es_N.htm?csp=1


    WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Handcuffs pin the teenage girl's wrists together. The cuffs connect to a heavy chain around her waist so she can't raise her arms. Another chain connects her ankles, shortening her step as she shuffles into the courtroom. When she shifts in her chair, the shackles clink.

    Malyra Perez is 14, and yes, her mother says, she is troublesome. Malyra runs away and goes to school high, her mother tells the judge. She is in court on a charge of grand theft auto.

    But she shouldn't be in shackles, Myra Perez says. "I didn't like that, not at all. She's not a criminal."

    Such sentiments are being heard in courts across the nation, where there are increasingly vigorous debates over rules that require metal shackles to be used on youths who appear at juvenile court hearings.

    At issue is whether kids as young as 10 need to be shackled for court security, and whether [/B]putting chains on young defendants not only makes them look like criminals but also makes them more likely to think of themselves in that way. [/B]

    The U.S. Supreme Court has said repeatedly that the sight of shackles on a defendant in a courtroom can unfairly influence a jury. Adult defendants may appear in court in shackles, but not in front of a jury that decides their fate.

    In almost all juvenile proceedings, though, a defendant's fate is in the hands of a judge, not a jury. Juvenile court procedures vary among the states and even within counties, so it's unclear precisely how many juvenile courts routinely shackle young defendants. But USA TODAY has found that in 28 states, some juvenile courts routinely keep defendants in restraints during court appearances.

    Routine shackling is a better-safe-than-sorry approach, many juvenile justice officials say. Teenage impulsiveness can lead to an escape attempt or an attack on a lawyer, judge or spectator, they say, and outdated security in some courtrooms and inadequate manpower heighten the risk.

    Twice a day here in Palm Beach County, groups of teenagers who have been arrested shuffle into the courtroom, their ankles and wrists shackled, for their initial appearance before a judge. When their cases are called, they sit shackled at the defense table with their court-appointed attorneys.

    Whether the judge sends them back to detention or releases them, they leave the courtroom the same way, even those small enough to walk under the arm of the sheriff's deputy holding the door.

    Judges differ on practice

    In state after state, such scenes have inspired attorneys who represent children to launch efforts to have the chains removed. A series of court decisions has shown that judges increasingly believe shackling children is wrong:

    •In Florida, judges in Miami-Dade County ruled in December against routine shackling after a motion by the public defender's office pointed out that juveniles were shackled and adult defendants in similar situations were not.

    "You go to a juvenile courtroom and you see a child shackled like a wild animal, and you go over to the adult courtroom and the adult is not shackled," says Carlos Martinez, assistant chief public defender.

    Chaining black or Hispanic juvenile defendants carries racial overtones that make the experience worse for the kids involved, he says. Shackling is "a shameful practice that is rooted in the horrible racist past of this country."

    A similar motion in nearby Broward County also succeeded. But in Palm Beach County, juvenile judges refused to end shackling, saying in their ruling that the lawyers challenging the practice had not proved that it harmed children and had not evaluated how lifting the rule would affect security. The case is now before an appeals court.

    "The whole experience of juvenile court can have a meaningful impact on children, on their respect for the law and their respect for the court system, that can translate into how they behave when they grow up," Palm Beach public defender Carey Haughwout says. "They give respect when they're given respect, and shackling is treating them very disrespectfully."

    •In North Carolina, Legal Aid lawyers for a 14-year-old girl in Greensboro asked a judge in February to remove shackles for court appearances. The lawyers said shackling traumatized the girl, who as a younger child had been sexually abused while handcuffed. In court, the girl was in leg irons and handcuffs attached to a waist chain.

    "She was crying," says Ann-Marie Dooley, one of the lawyers who filed the motion. "She could barely lift her hands to wipe her tears." The girl's case is pending.

    In March, Guilford County Chief District Court Judge Joseph Turner decided not to end routine shackling there after another teenager in chains, a 16-year-old boy, tried to escape custody while being driven to the courthouse.

    •In Connecticut, juvenile courts stopped shackling youths in March, except when judges decide that certain children require restraints. Now, about 30% of kids in court are in some kind of cuffs, based on assessments made by juvenile detention staff and approved by a judge, says Judge Barbara Quinn, deputy chief court administrator. "It's being implemented in the way we intended, because we figured a fair number of young people have a history of violence," Quinn says.

    •In California, an appeals court ruled in May that shackles could be used on minors in a Los Angeles County juvenile court only on a case-by-case basis.

    •In North Dakota, the state Supreme Court ruled in March that a court violated the rights of a 17-year-old boy by not determining whether his request to have his handcuffs removed during trial could be granted. At least two other state supreme courts have ruled against shackling juveniles in court: Illinois in 1977 and Oregon in 1995.

    Advocates for juveniles say policies that require all young defendants to be shackled are unnecessary because most kids who appear in juvenile courts are there for non-violent offenses. Instead, the advocates say, children should be shackled only if a judge agrees they are likely to be violent or to try to escape.

    In 2002, the latest year for which figures are available, less than one-quarter of juvenile delinquency cases that reached court involved assault or more violent crimes, according to the Justice Department. Almost 40% of the 1.6 million cases were for property crimes. There are no national figures for violent incidents in juvenile courtrooms.

    Shackling "is so egregious, so offensive, so unnecessary," says Patricia Puritz, executive director of the National Juvenile Defender Center, a group for lawyers who represent children in juvenile courts. "There is harm to the child and there is also harm to the integrity of the process. These children haven't even been found guilty of anything."

    Martinez says that "in most of the cases in juvenile court, most of the kids plead guilty. They're pleading guilty while they're in shackles. If that's not a coerced plea, I don't know what is."

    No one has studied whether young defendants who are chained in court fare worse than those who are not. Juvenile advocates fear that the sight of a youth in handcuffs and leg irons could influence the judge's assessment of a child and the case at hand.

    "It has the same effect that a judge wearing a robe has," says Bill Briggs, a court-appointed lawyer in rural Modoc County, Calif., where juveniles are shackled during court appearances. "It creates … a negative perception."

    "You look guilty," says Abby Anderson of the Connecticut Juvenile Justice Alliance. "You look violent and dangerous, and most kids who come into juvenile court are scared out of their minds and just did something stupid."

    Shackling done for security

    In jurisdictions where shackles are used on adults and children in courts, the practice is contrary to the rationale of having a separate court for young people, some critics say.

    "The purpose of children's court is to rehabilitate, protect and take care of children," says Rory Rank, a public defender in Las Cruces, N.M., who is petitioning the county juvenile court to end shackling. "If they're treated with dignity in that courtroom, I think it has a lasting effect on them."

    Those who believe shackling is necessary to ensure safety say young defendants have less self-control than adults. "They're more inclined to run than adults. They act completely on impulse. They're not getting, sometimes, the gravity of the situation," says Greg Conrad, president of the Court Officers' and Deputies' Association. Although handcuffing teenagers "appears tough, people with experience in the field would actually say it saves everybody a lot of trouble."

    In Jacksonville, where adult and juvenile defendants are shackled — except in front of a jury for adults — small courtrooms with inadequate separation between spectators and defendants make restraints necessary, state's attorney Harry Shorstein says. He gained a national reputation for reducing juvenile crime in the 1990s by prosecuting more juveniles as adults.

    Taking handcuffs and leg irons off defendants would require more security personnel, Shorstein says. When as many as a dozen youths are brought into a courtroom together and must wait their turn to go before the judge, he says, shackles keep them from ganging up on court officers. "It's not really a philosophical or criminal justice issue; it's really a lack-of-facilities issue," he says.

    In West Palm Beach, Vickie Cramer's son Alan was the first of nine juveniles who went before Judge Moses Baker Jr. on the same afternoon as Malyra Perez. The 16-year-old was charged with criminal mischief, grand theft auto and aggravated battery with a deadly weapon after he smashed his mother's door and windows with a baseball bat and drove away in his father's car.

    "It's shocking to see him like that. It's sad to see him like that," Cramer says of the handcuffs and leg irons her son wore. Then she adds, "Actually, I think it's a good thing. He needs to know the severity of what's going on."

    The outcome of juvenile cases is confidential, but Cramer says Alan later pleaded guilty to lesser charges of criminal mischief and possession of a firearm. Her account could not be verified independently because the court records are sealed. Alan will be under house arrest with an electronic ankle bracelet until he is assigned by the judge in July to a juvenile facility, she says.

    In West Virginia, juvenile courtrooms are closed to the public. Even so, Denny Dodson, deputy director of the Division of Juvenile Services, believes that young defendants find appearing in shackles so embarrassing that it may motivate them to stay out of trouble in the future.

    "In some ways, it's embarrassing to the point of they don't want it to happen again," he says. "To have to wear shackles in front of your mom or your grandmother may well be more positive than negative. They just don't want that to happen. They hate that."

    A matter of respect

    Judge Dale Koch has seen children in his court with shackles and without. For years, juvenile defendants in his Portland, Ore., courtroom wore them. He says that didn't affect his impression of the defendants, whose backgrounds he already knew.

    But being shackled meant youths had trouble handling paperwork and writing with their hands in cuffs, says Koch, president of the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges. And it could have motivated them to agree to plea bargains simply to get out of shackles, he says. "Unfortunately, that is how their reasoning process works," Koch says.

    In 1995, an Oregon appeals court sent back a case he had presided over, ruling he should have determined whether there was a reason to shackle the defendant before allowing it. Since then, youths appearing in Multnomah County juvenile courts have been unchained. Koch has come to believe it's better that way.

    "My experience has been that it can be done safely, as long as you have an exception built in where you can decide that under circumstances of that youth, they need to be shackled," Koch says. "It is just more respectful to not have the kids shackled while they're … in front of the judge."

    Handcuffs and leg irons are not intended to punish young defendants but are used to protect others in the courtroom from potential violence, says Hunter Hurst, director of the National Center for Juvenile Justice, a Justice Department-funded research organization.

    Wearing chains does, however, change a person's appearance, Hurst says. "Of course, you and I both look like someone else in shackles. We don't look better, we look worse. Therein lies, I guess, one of the conundrums that often face justice: What do you do? Do you risk the audience or do you vilify the person on trial?"


    Malyra Perez is 14, and yes, her mother says, she is troublesome. Malyra runs away and goes to school high, her mother tells the judge. She is in court on a charge of grand theft auto.

    But she shouldn't be in shackles, Myra Perez says. "I didn't like that, not at all. She's not a criminal."


    Sorry Mom- she is in fact a criminal.

    [/B]
    putting chains on young defendants not only makes them look like criminals but also makes them more likely to think of themselves in that way. [/B]
    We wouldn't want to hurt their self-esteem and have them realize they broke the law.
    "When a crime is committed, liberals blame society. Conservatives blame the criminal." -Debra Saunders

    Old Scottish Motto- "nemo me impune laccessit". It still holds true today.

  2. #2
    BEB
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    Routine shackling is a better-safe-than-sorry approach, many juvenile justice officials say. Teenage impulsiveness can lead to an escape attempt or an attack on a lawyer, judge or spectator, they say, and outdated security in some courtrooms and inadequate manpower heighten the risk.
    And at that point they have introduced supporting evidence against themselves. I understand the need for officer safety, but...

    At the same time I can see how the shackles can put the "fear of God" into many and nip their criminal career in the bud. I don't know what the benefit ratio is on that, but I'm certain that benefit exists.

    That "better-safe-than-sorry approach" I will rail against though. That path leads to ZT (some folks call it Zero Tolerance, I call it Zero Thinking, mm, hmm) and much more.

  3. #3
    Sapper_132's Avatar
    Sapper_132 is offline Master Turd Cutter
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    I treat them all the same here. Anyone going to see the Judge gets the belly chain w/ hand cuffs and shackles.

    Oh and she's being charged with grand theft auto then yes mom she's a criminal!
    Just because your sign off after you're shift is done, doesn't mean that it's over and put blinders on. You're a cop 24/7 wether you like it or not. If thats something you can't handle, you should find a new line of work!

  4. #4
    conalabu is offline Grasshopper
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    I have worked with kids before. I am here to say from personal experience that a 14 yr old that weighs 225 lbs. and is 6'2" is still a dangerous mf'r. I don't give a rats ass what momma sats about her precious little angel, I am going home at night. And by God, if I put their ass in that courtroom, I am making sure they stay in there until the fun and games are over.
    And Shepards we shall be,
    for thee, My Lord, for thee,
    Power hath descended forth from Thy hand,
    That our feet may swiftly carry out Thy Command.
    So we shall flow a river forth to Thee
    And teeming with souls will it ever be.
    In Nomine Patris, Et Filli, Et Spiritus Sancti.

  5. #5
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    k-9max is offline K9 Officer
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    Quote Originally Posted by conalabu View Post
    I have worked with kids before. I am here to say from personal experience that a 14 yr old that weighs 225 lbs. and is 6'2" is still a dangerous mf'r. I don't give a rats ass what momma sats about her precious little angel, I am going home at night. And by God, if I put their ass in that courtroom, I am making sure they stay in there until the fun and games are over.
    +1
    YEAH, IM THE BERRIES, AND CHERRIES IN YOUR REAR VIEW MIRROR.

    Handle every stressful situation like a dog.
    Eat it, Play with it, or piss on it, and walk away!

    As smart as man is, we haven't been able to invent a machine that can smell drugs or tell us where a person has walked,” Dogs are sophisticated investigative tools!

  6. #6
    BEB
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    14yo 6'2" / 225 is the exception or the rule?

    I agree, what momma says is out. And by the last bit I think you and I are on the same page with regard to the "fear of God" aspect?

  7. #7
    conalabu is offline Grasshopper
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    Quote Originally Posted by BEB View Post
    14yo 6'2" / 225 is the exception or the rule?

    I agree, what momma says is out. And by the last bit I think you and I are on the same page with regard to the "fear of God" aspect?
    Largely, I have found that kids have no fear. None. You can put shackles on a kid at age ten and have virtually no long term affect on that childs behavior. By the time a child reaches ten or so, the damage is done. If the child is "out of control" or delinquent, it has been a learned or taught behavior that has developed over years. That same behavior takes months or years to fix. Short term fixes or "scares" last about as long as that fear is present. On average, about a week. Then the ingrained, learned "bad" behaviors pop right back up.
    And Shepards we shall be,
    for thee, My Lord, for thee,
    Power hath descended forth from Thy hand,
    That our feet may swiftly carry out Thy Command.
    So we shall flow a river forth to Thee
    And teeming with souls will it ever be.
    In Nomine Patris, Et Filli, Et Spiritus Sancti.

  8. #8
    BEB
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    Quote Originally Posted by conalabu View Post
    Largely, I have found that kids have no fear. None. You can put shackles on a kid at age ten and have virtually no long term affect on that childs behavior. By the time a child reaches ten or so, the damage is done. If the child is "out of control" or delinquent, it has been a learned or taught behavior that has developed over years. That same behavior takes months or years to fix. Short term fixes or "scares" last about as long as that fear is present. On average, about a week. Then the ingrained, learned "bad" behaviors pop right back up.
    Sure wish I had a reply to that showing a crack of sunshine. I don't.

  9. #9
    Vendetta's Avatar
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    http://odmp.org/officer.php?oid=748

    When I hear this argument I always point people to this page.
    RIP Cliff
    "And don't go home, and don't go to eat, and don't play with yourself. It wouldn't look nice on my highway", Buford T. Justice

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  10. #10
    Ducky's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vendetta View Post
    http://odmp.org/officer.php?oid=748

    When I hear this argument I always point people to this page.
    RIP Cliff
    RIP


    Remember that 15 year old in Indiana a couple days ago that shot two cops, killing one, then was found dead? I'll bet he was someone's "sweet little angel" too.
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  11. #11
    Illiy is offline Corporal
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    This one will always stick with me... at the same time this was going on, my now ex was crossing the street on the other side of the building in full uniform. It could have easily been him.

    http://odmp.org/officer.php?oid=17288

 

 

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