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Monday, November 18, 2013

Courtroom Cages

An interesting article in today's New York Times discusses the surprisingly common practice of putting defendants in cages during courtroom proceedings:

Long eschewed as prejudicial by American courts and by the International Criminal Court in The Hague, locked docks, either metal cells or enclosures made of glass or wood, are still common, not just in countries like Russia and Egypt where the judicial systems often face international criticism, but also in many Western democracies, including Britain and France.

The article reports that this practice is drawing international criticism -- largely because placing the defendant in a cage portrays the defendant as violent and dangerous despite the law's presumption of innocence.

Based on some of my previous scholarship, however, I think it would be remiss to obliterate the practice of caging defendants entirely, however. As I point out in my essay, this particular aspect of courtroom procedure may be fitting for a certain class of defendants who pose a particular danger to those around them.

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