LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - Nebraska children would not wear handcuffs or leg irons in court unless absolutely necessary under a bill passed by the Legislature.
Senators voted 44-2 Thursday to prohibit mandatory juvenile restraints during court appearances. A judge must conduct a hearing with lawyers and guardians to decide whether or not to restrain a juvenile for the purpose of courtroom safety.
Currently, juvenile offenders transferred from detention centers appear shackled in court regardless of the severity of their offense. 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.
Gov. Pete Ricketts has five days to take action on the bill.