Apparently, it’s courtroom protocol for children to appear before juvenile court judges shackled at the ankles, chained at the waist and cuffed at the hands.
Efforts are now being led by Carlos Martinez, chief assistant public defender in Miami-Dade County, and the Florida Bar to help ban the practice of routinely shackling virtually all juvenile suspects.
According to a recent article published in The Florida Bar News, a bill is currently being drafted for introduction into the state’s Legislature early next year.
It is supposed to make major changes by getting the Florida Supreme Court to impose new statewide rules.
However, many judges seem to be quite reluctant to the proposed changes.
Oddly enough, there is some room for resistance. There have to be some precautionary measures that take place in order to maintain the security of other people in the courtroom. But to shackle a child in such a manner is a bit much.
This practice is demeaning, humiliating and dehumanizing.
It allows the legal system to neglect the human spirit of the minors.
According to the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice’s guidelines for safety and security, it says they are committed to observing, upholding and enforcing all laws pertaining to individual rights.
The right to be respected is an inalienable right that no one has the right to infringe. How can you really be presumed innocent, until proven guilty if you’re being brought into a courtroom in shackles?
This standard procedure reflects the equality and fairness that our legal system should possess.
Yewande Addie for the Editorial Board.