San Francisco Will End Mandatory Shackling of Immigration Detainees for Court

The settlement will only apply to San Francisco.

By Julianne Hing Jan 24, 2014

Immigration and Customs Enforcement has agreed to a settlement with San Francisco to end the practice of forcing immigrant detainees to show up to and stay in shackles during court hearings, the Los Angeles Times reported. The settlement came out of a lawsuit filed on behalf of immigrant detainees which argued that the shackles were not only unnecessary, they’re also humiliating and influence judges’ perceptions of them. The shackles are not merely handcuffs–they’re metal restraints of the wrists, waist and ankles. The policy will only pertain to San Francisco, but advocates hope that it could influence other jurisidictions as well.

From the Los Angeles Times:

"Often, the difference between showing up to a hearing in a suit like I’m wearing vs. a jumpsuit is the ability to pay $5,000 bond," said Paul Chavez, senior attorney at the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area, which litigated the class-action case along with the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California and attorneys from Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati.

In Southern California, immigrants from Orange County detention facilities are usually shackled during hearings in downtown Los Angeles, said Michael Kaufman, a staff attorney with the ACLU of Southern California.

"It’s not only inhumane and uncomfortable, but it gives off the wrong image," Kaufman said. "The judge is looking at somebody in a jumpsuit and handcuffs, as if they present some kind of risk and safety threat, which is not the case."