Delaware Lawmakers Limit Shackles for Juveniles in Family Court

Jun 23, 2016

Credit Joe Gratz / creative commons

DOVER, Del. (AP) - House lawmakers have unanimously approved a bill limiting the use of leg shackles on defendants in Family Court juvenile delinquency proceedings.

Lawmakers approved the bill Wednesday only after adding an amendment delaying its implementation until money is appropriated for more courthouse security.

Supporters of the bill say mandatory or routine use of shackles can be demeaning and cause psychological harm to a child. They argue that restraints should be used only if a judge decides there no less restrictive alternatives to prevent flight or physical harm to the child or to others.

The Division of Youth Rehabilitative Services says it would need to hire four more counselors to watch over defendants in court if shackling is limited, at an estimated cost to taxpayers of more than $230,000 a year.