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Public defenders want chains out of juvenile courts

MiamiHerald.com
Posted on Mon, Sep. 11, 2006
Public defenders want chains out of juvenile courts
BY CAROL MARBIN MILLER
cmarbin@MiamiHerald.com


In what may be the first barrage in a coordinated effort in South Florida, the Miami-Dade Public Defenders’ Office called upon juvenile court judges Monday to end the chaining of youthful offenders in court, calling the practice a ”degrading” affront to the Constitution and damaging to the youths’ mental health.
In motions filed on behalf of about a dozen teens arrested over the weekend, Public Defender Bennett H. Brummer claimed that handcuffing and shackling children in court violates their right to due process and interferes with their ability to communicate with their lawyers.. . .
”The handcuffing and shackling of children can cause them serious mental and emotional harm, and undermine the Court’s very objectives in preventing delinquency or rehabilitating a delinquent child,” the motions said.. . .
Broward Public Defender Howard Finkelstein said his office would be ”moving expeditiously” to file similar motions in juvenile court, as well. In Fort Lauderdale, he said, accused delinquents are escorted through public areas of the courthouse in chains before they go to court.
”These are children, and we are treating them like wild animals,” Finkelstein said. “It is disgraceful, it is inhumane, and we should all be ashamed for allowing children to be handcuffed and shackled and led through public hallways to be disgraced and humiliated.”