Boulder County eliminates the practice of indiscriminate shackling of juveniles during court proceedings

Thursday, March 20, 2014

CONTACT: Maria Campos Mozo, Community Justice Services, 303-441-3806


Public is invited to the Official Signing Ceremony of the Juvenile Restraint Reform Initiative on April 9  (invitation)


Boulder County, Colo. – The indiscriminate shackling of juvenile defendants – including the use of leg cuffs and chains, handcuffs, and waist belts which secure handcuffs at the waist (image examples) – is a common practice in juvenile courtrooms across the state of Colorado, with the notable exception of Boulder County as of January 15, 2014.


In June 2013, Boulder County, with full support of the Boulder County Commissioners whose jurisdiction includes the Community Justice Services division of Boulder County Community Services, established a Juvenile Restraint Reform Task Force consisting of key players from the Juvenile Justice System. The Task Force examined case law, best practices, and logistical issues surrounding the topic, and drafted criteria for sustainable Juvenile Restraint Reform.

Juvenile Restraint Reform Task Force Members

“We’re pleased to announce that as of January 15, 2014, juveniles will no longer be restrained in court except when ordered by the court during or prior to their hearing,” said Maria Campos Mozo, Juvenile Services Administrator with Boulder County Community Justice Services and Chair of the Juvenile Restraint Reform Task Force.


Indiscriminate shackling refers to the restraining of every juvenile arrested and transported to court without a determination of need for such restraints. It represents a complex issue in the juvenile justice system and has been broadly discussed on a national level by public defenders, juvenile advocates, and politicians alike.


“There is a growing trend towards eliminating indiscriminate shackling in the United States and Colorado, and we are proud to be doing this in Boulder County independent of a court order or legislation,” said Board of County Commissioners Chair Cindy Domenico.


The public is invited to attend the signing ceremony to honor the abolishment of the long standing practice of indiscriminate shackling of Boulder County juveniles during court proceedings.


What:           Juvenile Restraint Reform Initiative Official Signing Ceremony

When:          1 p.m., Wednesday, April 9

Where:        Courtroom P, Boulder County Justice Center, 1777 6th Street in Boulder


This change has become a national best practice recommendation made and supported by the Center for Juvenile Justice and the National Juvenile Defender Center amongst many other juvenile advocates across the country.


“Across the nation, new legislation with proposed amendments and court rulings have changed the approach juvenile courts are now taking around the indiscriminate shackling of juveniles,” said Lisa Polansky, Executive Director of the Center for Juvenile Justice and Task Force member. “This approach adds rules dictating that restraints, such as handcuffs and leg chains, cannot be used during juvenile court appearances unless the court finds that the use of restraints is necessary and reasonable.”


 “It is the stance of the Boulder County Juvenile Restraint Reform Task Force that juveniles should appear in court free of restraint, a philosophy we believe is in line with national trends and best practices, and most importantly ensures the greatest outcome for the juveniles served,” said Megan Ring, Managing Deputy State Public Defender of the Boulder Regional Office and Task Force member.


“The Community Justice Services Division and our partners, specifically the Boulder County Public Defender’s Office and the Center for Juvenile Justice, welcome this reform as well and it mirrors our county values of collaboration, responsive government, and integrity,” said Campos Mozo. She added, “By developing and implementing a sustainable plan for restraint reform in Boulder County, we can assist in planning efforts for other Judicial Districts within the State.”




Juvenile Restraint Reform Task Force Members include:

·         Chair: Maria Campos Mozo, Boulder County Community Justice Services

·         Judge Ingrid Bakke, Twentieth Judicial District Court

·         Alec Egizi, Boulder Regional Office of the Colorado State Public Defender

·         Carole Greenwell, Boulder County Community Justice Services

·         Sargent Tom McGrath, Boulder County Sheriff’s Office

·         Lisa Polansky, Center for Juvenile Justice

·         Michael Rafik, Colorado Criminal Defense Bar

·         Megan Ring, Boulder Regional Office of the Colorado State Public Defender

·         Dea Wheeler, Boulder County Attorney’s Office


Additional background:

The shackling of juveniles and subsequent bans is not a new phenomenon. Illinois eliminated its indiscriminate shackling policy in 1977. The 15 states that no longer shackle juvenile offenders as a result of State Supreme Court rulings or legislative action and the year they were implemented include: California – 2007, Connecticut – 2007, Florida – 2009, Illinois – 1977, Maine 2012, Massachusetts – 2010, New Mexico – 2007, New York – 2010, North Carolina – 2007, North Dakota – 2007, Ohio – 2012, Oregon – 1995, Pennsylvania – 2011, Vermont – 2009 and Washington – 2002.


Barbara Halpin
Boulder County Public Information Officer

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