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Illinois Juvenile Justice Advocates Want Less Shackles Used During Court

Posted on in Family Law

Illinois Juvenile Justice Advocates Want Less Shackles Used During CourtThe Chicago Tribune recently reported on a hearing that took place in front of the Illinois Supreme Court Rules Committee. The committee heard testimony from juvenile justice advocates who were pushing for reform of the rules around juveniles being forced to wear arm and leg shackles during court in some counties.

Current Policy

At this time, there is no statewide policy in Illinois about whether and when shackles should be used on defendants in juvenile court actions. However, there are very specific guidelines for when shackles are used for adult criminal defendants in court. Right now, each country makes their own rules about when it is appropriate for juveniles to be shackled in court. In DuPage County, whose juvenile defendants are heard in Kane County, the judge has the discretion to require shackles to be used or not.

The Issue

Many advocates and others that work in the juvenile system, as well as a Chicago Sun-Times editorial, believe that shackles should only be used on juveniles when it is absolutely necessary. Twenty-five other states have already banned or restricted the use of restraints on juveniles during court. Advocates also argue that the current system results in a disparity with some judges using shackles frequently for juveniles, or others not at all. Other advocates worry about the mental health effects of the restraints on juveniles and experts have found that shackling juveniles can lead to a “freeze” reaction that keeps the defendant from being able to meaningfully participate in their own defense. The Kane County State’s Attorney says that he is fine with letting the Illinois Supreme Court decide on new rules but stresses that there are times that restraining juvenile defendants is necessary for the safety of everyone.

Policy Suggestions

Advocates have proposed a rule that would force judges to only order juveniles to be restrained if there is a big risk of the youth trying to escape the courtroom, if there is the threat of physical harm by the juvenile, or if there is a risk of disruption that could result in harm. Shackles should only be used if there is no other viable option. If accepted as is, the new rule would also mandate that if the judge orders the use of shackles then he or she needs to accompany that decision with a written explanation as to why the restraints are being ordered. There also needs to be a hearing where the juvenile’s attorney is present to argue against the use of shackles. The Illinois Supreme Court is charged with deciding whether the current rule should be changed and if any or all of the advocates’ proposal should be accepted. Contact Our Attorneys for Help

If your child is facing charges in juvenile court, you should have a knowledgeable juvenile law attorney on your side to help advocate for you and your child. Our skilled DuPage County juvenile law attorneys at Davi Law Group, LLC, can help to defend your child against the charges brought and minimize the consequences.

Sources:

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/ct-juvenile-shackles-illinois-courts-met-20160731-story.html
http://chicago.suntimes.com/opinion/editorials-shackling-juvenile-defendants-often-unnecessary/
http://www.chicagolawbulletin.com/Archives/2016/06/13/Juvenile-restraint-rule-6-13-16.aspx

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