Juvenile Justice Press Release

12.07.15

ACLU of Ohio Supports New Rule to End Automatic Shackling of Children in Juvenile Court

shackled hands

COLUMBUS—The Supreme Court of Ohio has opened the public comment period for Local Juvenile Restraint Rule 5.01, a Rule of Superintendence for the Courts of Ohio which would prohibit the automatic and indiscriminate shackling of children appearing in juvenile court. The ACLU of Ohio has submitted a comment in support of Rule 5.01, and calls on other organizations and child advocates to do the same.

“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. “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.”

“This change would require courts to adopt a rule 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.”

Read the ACLU of Ohio’s letter to The Supreme Court of Ohio

Numerous national organizations including the American Bar Association and the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges support rules that prohibit automatic shackling of children. 23 states and the District of Columbia have already prohibited automatic shackling in juvenile court.

“Numerous psychological journals report that 75-93% of youth who enter the juvenile justice system have experienced some form of trauma,” Diaz said. “Adopting a presumption against automatic shackling would allow Ohio’s juvenile courts to function in a trauma-informed manner that reduces harm to the children it serves. We urge others to join us in submitting comments to the Supreme Court of Ohio.”

“It is our collective responsibility to protect children and their rights, while providing guidance when they make mistakes. Supporting Juvenile Rule 5.01 will do exactly that.”

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Go to our Juvenile Shackling page.