September 27, 2006
Profs and Public Defenders Fight to Free Youths from Shackles
In a groundbreaking case, Miami-Dade’s Public Defenders’ Office filed a motion in Juvenile Court this week, challenging Florida’s 11th Judicial Circuit’s policy of using arms and legs shackles on all juvenile pre-trial detainees who appear before it. The policy applies to all juveniles in secure detention, regardless of age, size, gender, pending charges, history of violence, or risk of escape.
University of Miami School of Law Professors Perlmutter and Winick, experts in children and juvenile law and therapeutic jurisprudence, filed a joint affidavit, opining that the indiscriminate blanket policy of shackling all juvenile offenders, in the absence of an individualized determination that the child poses a risk of flight or harm, is anti-therapeutic, prejudicial to their obtaining a fair trial, and antithetical to the rehabilitative aims of the juvenile justice system.
Professor Schnably, an expert in international law, opined in his affidavit that the practice is inconsistent with U.S. obligations under international law to treat all detainees with respect and dignity and to provide children with protections required by their status as children.
At least one judge in the Juvenile Division has already agreed to discontinue the practice, and the three others are considering [Mark Godsey]
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