Monday, January 23, 2012

Should juveniles automatically be shackled when they go to court?

That's a question that will be considered this evening before the House Early Learning and Human Services committee.

Rep. Ruth Kagi is sponsoring a measure that gives detention staff and judges the discretion to decide whether leg irons, belly chains, and other types of restraints should be used when transporting a juvenile to and from court, as well as in the courtroom itself.

Currently, only seven of Washington's 39 counties do not routinely restrain children who are brought to court.  A juvenile's behavior in and out of the courtroom, the crime he or she is accused of, and whether or not the juvenile even committed the crime are not generally taken into account.  Rep. Kagi believes all these factors should be considered.

The bill was supposed to have a public hearing last week, but severe winter storms caused several legislative committees to cancel or postpone their meetings.  The Legislative Calendar shows which committees are meeting today, as well as time and location.

To read this story in Spanish, click here.