strip search | WYPR

strip search

Rachel Baye / WYPR

Sitting handcuffed and shackled for a long car ride can be traumatic for a child. Deborah St. Jean, the director of the state public defender’s Juvenile Protection Division, said one of her clients particularly dreaded the shackles.

“When this girl has to come to court, she is handcuffed, shackled — black box, waist chains, 25 pounds — and she has tremendous anxiety about that,” St. Jean said. “And each conversation I have with her when I’m telling her she’s going to court, she will invariably ask me, ‘Do I have to be handcuffed? You know that’s so awful.’ It’s a three-hour ride for her.”

Rachel Baye

A state legislative committee voted Thursday in favor of changes to how and when the Department of Juvenile Services strip searches children and adolescents in its custody. However, the group delayed decisions about new regulations for when and how to shackle youth.