Policy Statement on Indiscriminate Shackling of Juveniles in Court states the National Center of Mental Health and Juvenile Justice’s (NCMHJJ’s) opposition to automatic or widespread shackling of youth appearing in court. The NCMHJJ holds that no youth should be shackled for a court appearance unless the court, following a formal hearing, has found that the specific child: (1) poses a credible and substantial risk to himself or others; and/or (2) poses a credible and substantial risk of attempted flight; and (3) there is no other less restrictive means available to manage risks of harm or flight. 

In most cases, shackling of youth is not necessary to assure safety or prevent flight by the youth. It substantially undermines the positive development of youth, compromises the fundamental fairness and due process guaranteed by the Constitution, and imposes significant additional burdens and risks upon youth with behavioral health needs who are disproportionately represented among youth in the juvenile justice system. 

The National Center for Youth Opportunity and Justice (NCYOJ) originally developed and maintained this resource. The NCYOJ was operated by Policy Research, Inc. and operated from 2001 to 2022 and was formerly known as the NCMHJJ. The NCYOJ improved life opportunities for youth through systems and practice improvement initiatives.  

This resource should be viewed as a reference document. It has not been updated since its publication. In addition, this document has not been made 508 compliant. If you would like a 508 compliant version of this document, please email communications@prainc.com 

This resource was first shared in 2015. 

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