Reviewing Shackles for Juveniles in Family Court

Jun 22, 2016

Credit Joe Gratz / creative commons

DOVER, Del. (AP) - Delaware lawmakers are eyeing changes regarding the use of leg shackles on defendants in Family Court juvenile delinquency proceedings.

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 when are there no less restrictive alternatives to prevent flight or physical harm to the child or to others. They say there should not be an automatic presumption that shackles are needed.

But the Division of Youth Rehabilitative Services, which transports juveniles to court, nevertheless says it would need to hire four more counselors to watch over defendants in court if shackling is limited.

Analysts estimate that the bill up for House consideration Wednesday would cost taxpayers more than $230,000 a year.