Protesters outside Quincy District Court. (James Rojas/WBZ NewsRadio)
QUINCY, Mass. (WBZ NewsRadio) — A dozen protesters stood outside Quincy District Court Thursday morning holding signs saying "stop shackling kids," decrying a process they say forces minors charged with crimes to participate in a "walk of shame" through the building.
Mark Koch, a bar advocate, told WBZ NewsRadio's James Rojas that those as young as 12 are forced to walk through an 80-foot public corridor before reaching the courtroom, with the public "viewing these kids in leg irons and handcuffs being paraded through the hall."
"It's a walk of shame," Koch said. "If you see it happen, you know it's wrong."
Koch believes it's not just wrong, but illegal.
"The law is that kids shouldn't be indiscriminately shackled," he said. "If there's a reason to shackle them and the judge puts it on the record, that's one thing."
He's not saying all juveniles should never be shackled—but he doesn't believe they should be paraded in public.
"In my opinion, it's against the law, and they need to do whatever they can do," he said. "They need to explore alternative measures, which they haven't done."
A spokesperson for the court says the constraints of the courthouse do not offer an alternative, and that the practice isn't the preference of the trial court—but that, since the juveniles have to be moved through a public area, shackling them does ensure public safety in the courthouse.
"In most courthouses, moving a juvenile from the lock up to the courtroom takes places through a secure passageway that is separate from the public," the spokesperson said in a message to WBZ NewsRadio. "In Quincy, the limitations of the building only allow for a route through a public area to get to the juvenile courtroom."
Planning and assessment for a new courthouse have begun, however, and construction is expected to start next year.
WBZ NewsRadio's James Rojas (@JamesRojasWBZ) reports