Illinois ends indiscriminate shackling of minors in courtrooms

Think Progress

On Nov. 1, Illinois will become the latest state to reform its juvenile shackling policy. Instead of shackling young people at random, judges will soon decide when minors need to be restrained in the courts, on a case by case basis.

Last week, Illinois’ chief justice, Rita Garman, ruled that minors can only be shackled after a special hearing is held to determine if a person poses a threat to safety or a flight risk. A judge ultimately has to make the determination — not prosecutors, officers, and other court personnel. In the past, shackling included the use of “handcuffs, leg shackles, leg irons, belly belts, belly chains, or other restraint devices used to restrict a minor’s free movement.” Under the new policy, the “least restrictive restraints” must be used when a judge concludes that shackling is warranted.

The rule changes were made after civil and juvenile rights organizations in Illinois collectively spoke out against the practice of “indiscriminate shackling” in the state Supreme Court.

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