Unchain the Children: Gault, Therapeutic Jurisprudence, and Shackling
Barry Law Review, Vol. 9, p. 1, 2007
Posted: 18 Aug 2012
Date Written: December 30, 2007
Published as the lead article in the Barry Law Review Symposium, Forty Years After In Re Gault: Do Kangaroo Courts Still Rule? "Unchain the Children" examines the constitutionality and policy justifications for the widespread practice, in Florida and other states, of indiscriminately shackling and restraining juvenile offenders in the courtroom. It marshals constitutional and statutory argument, in addition to therapeutic jurisprudence, social science, historical, race theory and other bodies of research and scholarship, to critique the forcible restraint of juveniles in court proceedings. The article examines In Re Gault as a groundbreaking text in therapeutic jurisprudence: the concept that the law the law can promote therapeutic outcomes with individuals by allowing them the autonomy to learn from their mistakes. For TJ scholars, due process allows the individual to accept even adverse decisions, and assume responsibility for making change. Conversely, the lack of procedural justice undermines the legitimacy of judicial decisions, giving subjects an alibi for failing to comply. The article critiques blanket shackling policies as creating self-fulfilling prophecies. Treated like deviants, shackled children act the part. The article uses both TJ and procedural justice literature to support the argument that blanket shackling policies stigmatize and harm children, violate due process norms, and vitiate the aims of the juvenile justice system.
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