Bill asks Colorado courts to create policies on juvenile restraints – The Denver Post
A 10-year-old boy stands shackled in a Florida courtroom in a file photo dated May 10, 2007. A new Colorado bill would require judicial districts to research and create a policy for when it is appropriate for juveniles to wearing restraints in court. (David Tucker, AP)A bill that could change the way juveniles are shackled during court appearances passed out of a state House committee Tuesday. Unlike a similar bill, which died in 2013, the current proposal would not ban the use of restraints for in-custody juveniles. Instead, the bill would require all of Colorado’s 22 judicial districts to research and create a policy for when it is appropriate for juveniles to appear in court wearing restraints that can weigh as much as 25 pounds. Under the proposed law, officials in each district must work with law enforcement, public defenders and district attorneys to create a policy based on national research, best practices and security needs in each district. The bill would not create mandates for judges to follow.Opponents of the bill warned that requiring judicial districts to create a policy erodes the discretion and authority of judges. But more than a dozen advocates for the bill testified that efforts to remove juvenile restraints are not new and judges in most districts have failed to act. The bill passed out of the House Judicial Committee on an 8-5 vote.
Ann Roan, state training director for juvenile defense for the Colorado public defender’s office, has worked to remove restraints from in-custody juveniles — ranging in ages 10 to 17 — for four years.”Now is the time to say courts have given up their right to say that’s how we’ve always done it,” Roan said.
In all but three judicial districts — Boulder, Jefferson and La Plata counties — in-custody juveniles wear restraints during court appearances. The restraints are used on juveniles accused of crimes as minor as stealing a candy bar and can have long-term effects on developing minds, experts say. Still, lawmakers questioned if resources in rural judicial districts would allow juveniles to be unshackled while maintaining safety in the courtroom.Chris Johnson, executive director of County Sheriffs … – Click Here To Visit Article Source