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ACLU sues federal immigration agency to halt shackling immigrants in court

New America Media
 — May 16 2012 - 2:13pm

Detainees file into San Francisco immigration court linked together like a chain gang, bound at their wrists, waists and ankles. A metal chain or seatbelt-style restraint is wrapped around the detainees’ waists and connected to their wrists with a link to the detainee in front of them.

The detainees often must sit four to a bench and remain bound to each other throughout the court proceedings. While sitting bound, they are limited in movements, and the restraints prevent simple tasks, such as taking notes during the proceeding.  

Most of these detainees are not violent criminals, but are treated just as harshly before the court. Legal advocates believe this practice is unconstitutional. Although every courtroom has safety concerns, physical restraints are typically reserved for the most violent offenders.

In fact, a 2009 report by the U.S. against Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency shows that 95 percent of the immigration detainees having no violent felony records. Yet the practice of shackling all immigration detainees is nationwide problem, and the decision to do so is at the discretion of each county.

Because the blanket policy of shackling all detainees in court continues, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Northern California, in partnership with the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights and the law firm of Wilson, Sonsini, Goodrich and Rosati, filed a class-action suit in the U.S. District Court in San Francisco to compel ICE and other federal law enforcement agencies to bring an end to this indiscriminate practice.

Read the complete story at New America Media.