Bill to ban shackling minors in court advances

 Posted By: KLKN Newsroom

    LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) _ The Nebraska Legislature will debate the state’s policy of shackling children under 18 in court, a practice opponents call humiliating and counterproductive.

        A legislative committee voted 8-0 Monday to advance a bill by Omaha Sen. Bob Krist to prohibit restraining juveniles with handcuffs, chains and irons during court appearances unless necessary for courtroom safety. The committee included language from another bill by Omaha Sen. Ernie Chambers that also bans electronic monitors.

        In Nebraska, juvenile offenders transferred from detention centers appear in court in restraints regardless of the severity of their offense. Juvenile advocates say the presumption of restraints damages children psychologically and affects courtroom behavior.

        The bill would also lower penalties for status offenses, which are age-dependent crimes like truancy or possession of alcohol.