Your article touches upon many of the sad truths regarding the state of Florida's juvenile justice system. I wanted to relay a reform Floridians can be proud of. The State's Supreme Court ended the practice of indiscriminate juvenile shackling on January 1st, 2010. This practice is exactly what it sounds like. Until that date, children entered court with metal restraints around their bodies--their wrists, legs, and even stomachs--without any regard to actual need.
Miami-Dade County had already ended the practice in 2006. Defenders there report that roughly 25,000 kids have gone through the system without shackles since then. No one was harmed. No one escaped.
Children who are restrained in court have a harder time listening to courtroom instructions, conversing with their attorneys, and are likely to act out more than their unshackled counterparts. Medical and mental health professionals report that shackling can cause physical harm and unseen and immeasurable psychological damage. Florida was one of the first states to see the light on this issue. This year, a number of states are looking to follow Florida's lead, including Indiana, Nebraska, Colorado, and Connecticut, to name a select few.
Florida has a long way to go in juvenile justice reform. The State's Court should also be congratulated on taking this much-needed, common-sense step.
Sincerely, David A. Shapiro, Esq. Manager, Campaign Against Indiscriminate Juvenile Shackling Washington, D.C.