Gretchen Schuldt
Court Watch

High Court Considers Juvenile Shackling

Judges call for banning shackling in courts. State Supreme Court seeks public comments on issue.

By , Wisconsin Justice Initiative - Dec 16th, 2021 10:33 am
Handcuffs. (Pixabay License).

Handcuffs. (Pixabay License).

The Wisconsin Supreme Court is accepting comments until January  3 on a petition to prohibit routine shackling of juveniles in court.

A public hearing on the matter is scheduled for February 15.

Currently, many counties in the state routinely shackle children during their court appearances. Five judges filed a joint petition asking that the high court end this practice. They are Milwaukee County Circuit Court Judge Laura Crivello, Eau Claire County Circuit Court Judge Michael A. Schumacher, La Crosse County Circuit Court Judge Ramona A. Gonzalez, Dane County Circuit Court Judge Everett Mitchell, and Marathon County Circuit Court Judge Suzanne C. O’Neill.

The petition pending before the court would require that restraints or shackles be removed from children before they are brought into a courtroom unless a judge makes all of the findings listed below:

1. The use of restraints is necessary due to any of the following factors:

a. Restraints are necessary to prevent physical harm to the child or another person.
b. The child has a history of disruptive courtroom behavior that has placed others in potentially harmful situations, or the child presents a substantial risk of inflicting physical harm on himself or herself or others as evidenced by recent behavior.
c. There is a founded belief that the child presents a substantial risk of flight from the courtroom.

2. There are no less restrictive alternatives to restraints that will prevent flight or physical harm to the child or another person, including the presence of court personnel, law enforcement officers, or bailiffs.

The petition also would require a judge to allow the child’s lawyer to be heard before the court orders the use of restraints.

The full petition and a supporting memo is posted on the State Supreme Court website here.

Send any comments on the petition to Clerk of Supreme Court, Attention: Deputy Clerk-Rules, P.O. Box 1688, Madison, WI 53701-1688.

If possible, email a Microsoft Word version of your response to clerk@wicourts.gov. See comment guidelines at the court’s website here.

Gretchen Schuldt writes a blog for Wisconsin Justice Initiative, whose mission is “To improve the quality of justice in Wisconsin by educating the public about legal issues and encouraging civic engagement in and debate about the judicial system and its operation.”

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