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Oregon Lawmakers Approve Ban On Shackling Children In Court

<p>What happens if the Oregon Legislature holds a hearing on a tax increase and no one showed up to testify?</p>

Bradley W. Parks

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What happens if the Oregon Legislature holds a hearing on a tax increase and no one showed up to testify?

Oregon lawmakers have approved a measure that would stop children under 18 from being physically restrained during juvenile court proceedings.

The Oregon House voted unanimously in favor of the measure Thursday, sending it to Gov. Kate Brown.

The bill would require restraints, such as shackles or handcuffs, to be removed before a court hearing begins.

Supporters include Rep. Jennifer Williamson, D-Portland, who said restraining youth in court can needlessly humiliate them and may hurt their ability to be treated fairly.

"I believe this is an important step for our state," Williamson said. "It brings us in line with the new nationally accepted standards, and moves our juvenile justice system forward in a positive manner."

Juvenile courts in some Oregon counties already ban the practice.

The bill would allow for restraints to be used if a court determines there is a "serious risk of dangerous or disruptive behavior."

It would not apply in cases where children are being tried as adults.

Copyright 2017 Oregon Public Broadcasting

Chris Lehman covers the Oregon state capitol for JPR as part of the Northwest News Network, a group of 12 Northwest public radio organizations which collaborate on regional news coverage. Chris graduated from Temple University with a journalism degree in 1997. He began his career producing arts features for Red River Public Radio in Shreveport, Louisiana and has been a reporter/announcer for NPR station WNIJ in DeKalb, Illinois. Chris has also reported from overseas, filing stories from Iraq, Burkina Faso, El Salvador, Northern Ireland, Zimbabwe and Uganda.