By Brian Schatz | Mother Jones | 24 February 2015
The nine-year-old stole a 14-stick pack of Trident “Layers” chewing gum, Orchard Peach and Ripe Mango flavor, worth $1.48. He’d lingered by the beverage isle of the Super 1 Foods in Post Falls, Idaho, for a while before bailing out the front door. The theft led to a missed court appearance, which led to an arrest and a night spent in a juvenile jail. The next day, the third-grader appeared in court, chained and shackled.
At least 100,000 children are shackled in the US every year, according to estimates by David Shapiro, a campaign manager at the Campaign Against Indiscriminate Juvenile Shackling. (Formal data on numbers of shackled kids does not exist.) As juvenile justice practices have grown more punitive over the past several decades, shackling has become far more common. This month, the American Bar Association (ABA) passed a resolution calling for an end to this practice because it is harmful to juveniles, largely unnecessary for courtroom safety—and contradicts existing law. “We’re not just talking handcuffs here. These kids are virtually hog-tied,” says John D. Elliott, a South Carolina defense attorney who worked on the resolution. “The only difference is their hands are in front.” Continue reading »