Rep. Reilly: Shackling of youth during court proceedings often unnecessary

Categories: Reilly News

Legislation creates framework for using restraints on juveniles

State Rep. John Reilly has introduced legislation to end the indiscriminate use of restraints on juveniles during court proceedings.

At least 32 states have rules, statutes or administrative orders prohibiting or limiting the indiscriminate shackling of youth. Because Michigan has no such regulation, Reilly said juvenile defendants are often shackled from head to toe during court appearances, even for first-time, non-violent offenses.

“Kids who have given no indication of being a flight risk or safety threat are often forced to wear handcuffs, leg irons and belly chains the entire time they’re in court,” said Reilly, of Oakland Township. “In most cases, it is completely unnecessary to use these restraints on young people. The presence of court personnel and law enforcement officers is enough to maintain safety in juvenile court.”

Studies have shown restraints often humiliate and traumatize young people, create an unfair bias that affects their right to due process, and may negatively influence a defendant’s decision on how to proceed.

Reilly’s legislation would not prohibit the use of restraints, but rather establish criteria for making a determination whether restraints are necessary.

“This is a common-sense criminal justice reform we should all get behind,” Reilly said. “Children charged with minor infractions should not experience the shame and public humiliation of being shackled in court. Restraints should only be used on children when there is a true safety concern.”

House Bill 4802 has been referred to the House Judiciary Committee for consideration.