Children in Chains: Indiscriminate Shackling of Juveniles


The U.S. Supreme Court has not yet addressed indiscriminate shackling of juveniles, but it has done so regarding adults. This Article begins by reviewing the Court‘s rulings on blanket shackling of adults in Part II. Part III reviews state appellate court decisions that have addressed the use of restraints on juveniles in court. Part IV makes the argument that indiscriminate shackling of children is unconstitutional because it violates the Fifth, Sixth, and Fourteenth Amendments (due process of law and right to counsel) to the U.S. Constitution. Part IV also examines the special characteristics of adolescents that support this argument. Part V of this Article surveys each States‘ current juvenile courtroom shackling practices and classifies those practices into four categories: (1) States that permit blanket shackling of juveniles; (2) States that do not permit blanket shackling via state legislation or regulation; (3) States that do not permit blanket shackling via written court policy; (4) States where appellate case law has prohibited indiscriminate shackling of juveniles; and (5) States that have pending legislation which will prohibit indiscriminate shackling. Florida has enacted legislation and Massachusetts has instituted a court policy, both of which address the issue of indiscriminate shackling of juveniles in court. Part VI analyzes and compares Massachusetts‘ court policy to Florida legislation.


Criminal justice discrimination, Handcuffs, Juvenile offenders, Right to fair and impartial trial, United States



Kim M. McLaurin (Suffolk University Law School)



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