CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Unreasonable Seizure?: Handcuffing Children

ScissorsMSNBC reports:   "A 10-year-old girl was placed in handcuffs and taken to a police station because she took a pair of scissors to her elementary school.  School district officials said the fourth-grade student did not threaten anyone with the 8-inch shears, but violated a rule that considers scissors to be potential weapons. 

Administrators said they were following state law when they called police Thursday, and police said they were following department rules when they handcuffed Porsche Brown and took her away in a patrol wagon.  Police officers decided the girl hadn’t committed a crime and let her go.  However, school officials suspended her for five days." More  . . .  I wonder what the Atwater Court would say about this one?  [Mark Godsey]

UPDATE:  From  "A 5-year-old girl was handcuffed by police (in Florida) after she tore papers off a bulletin board and punched an assistant principal in kindergarten class, according to a video released by a lawyer for the child’s mother."  Here's a videoclip of the child being handcuffed.  The video shows that the child had calmed down considerably before the police slapped the handcuffs on her.  [Mark Godsey]

UPDATE: CNN reports that St. Louis police handcuffed a 5 year old, at the direction of the principal of a charter school who formerly worked for the Department of Corrections.  "The boy's mother, Aroni Rucker, said Wednesday her son had trouble adjusting to his first year of school and may have been disruptive, but he did nothing to warrant such treatment. 'They put handcuffs on my baby,' Rucker said. 'That's for adults who murder and kill. He's 5. He's in kindergarten.' . . .  St. Louis police spokesman Richard Wilkes said the department was looking into the incident. 'Handcuffing 5-year-olds is not a practice of the department,' he said."  The principal has been suspended. [Jack Chin]

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Tracked on Apr 24, 2005 11:14:56 AM

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Remember a few weeks ago when I said that every social problem begins in the family? Well for all you naysayers out there, I offer you a prime example of parenting gone bad: "Police Handcuff 5-year-old After Tantrum." At this... [Read More]

Tracked on Apr 27, 2005 1:01:58 AM


I wonder what the Atwater Court would say about this one?

What's good enough for soccer moms is good enough for soccer kids.

Posted by: Mike | Dec 15, 2004 7:37:49 PM

Could this be what happens when lazy and/or unintelligent school bureaucrats go wild with "zero tolerance" rules?

But if you ask them, I'm sure they will explain that this type of absurdity, easily avoided if they were to apply even a modicum of common sense, is somehow entirely the fault of lawyers.

Posted by: Aaron | Dec 15, 2004 8:32:19 PM

When I was a college student a fraternity brother of mine was arrested for disorderly conduct. I went to his arraignment and in the jury box was a really pretty woman about 27 handcuffed to her 3 year old daughter,they were both in nightgowns. The judge came into the crowded courtroom and didn't at first notice his guests until the little girl complained "mommy this braclet is hurting my hand."
The judge a local boston law school grad law review and a really successful lawyer in his day looked over,and you could see his blood pressure rise in his cherubic Irish face. " ...RESPONSIBLE FOR THIS!!!!! he boomed." Of course he absolutly exploded when he found out the reason for the arrest... the little girl had let the family dog out of the house without a leash for the second time! Talk about the BOston Massacre, The judge went absolutly bats and the angrier he got the more the little girl cried and when they couldn't find the handcuff key well... it was not funny then but looking back I was so glad I din't work for the DA that day. He rightfully was angry all morning at police and not one bail request from the government was granted unless they didn't ask for any bail. I spoke to the young woman assistant da as she finished the calendar only to find out that she had to see the judge later that same day... She was his niece!

Posted by: Anthony J. Colleluori | Apr 23, 2005 9:12:06 PM

A 5 year old child be it boy or girl, are never gonna be big enough to overpower the arms of a police officer or any other competent adult. And the mental scarring caused to even seasoned criminals the moment the cuffs are put on and your freedom leaves like a 747 taking a loved one away you know the feeling. If you can't use hands to restrain an unparented or mentally unstable 5 year old, then maybe a second look at career choices should be explored. The way the teacher permitted the behavior in a passive "give me more" backwards walk I kinda wanted to slug her myself! She led that child down a dark path and into the hands of underpaid, inept, robots. Seems the police who patrol now are zombies with no time for humanity or reality. If it's not in the guide book, they can't function or figure it out. This was just unnecessary.

Posted by: Dan | Apr 26, 2005 9:04:15 PM

The reality of the problem is the "so-called" PARENT.
The child had a massive temeper tantrum and somewhere along the way (at home) learned that this is how to act to get what she wants.
The teacher/principal did everything reasonable within their power to stop it. Remember, they cannot touch the kid, otherwise a spanky would have fixed it.. The police can and did.
NO one dies from handcuffs. TOO many bleeding hearts!!!! The media of course cut out the massive tmeper tantrum part of the video.

Posted by: TRUTH | Apr 27, 2005 11:46:13 AM

This is police policy to handcuff anyone that poses a danger to any other person!!I think people are missing the point.If the police show up and are present while the child sticks a pencil in another kids eye, then the police are still in trouble!
Cuffs are very humane.its just life!

Posted by: dave | May 16, 2005 6:48:37 AM

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