City Courts Will Try Stun Belt To Control Some Defendants
Sheriff’s officials in St. Louis, Mo., are requesting permission to use leg restraints or stun belts on criminal defendants. The proposal was made in response to the attack of a deputy at the St. Louis Civil Courts building last month that enabled an inmate to break free for a short time.
However, high court judges have ruled that defendants should not be visibly restrained because it hinders their ability to get a fair trial. Washington University law professor Peter Joy explains that restraints make it difficult for jurors to view defendants as innocent until proven guilty.
Stun belts will be tested in St. Louis on defendants who pose flight risks, and they could ultimately be used in transporting all inmates if found to be reliable.
Though stun belts can be concealed by clothing, critics worry that the fear of being shocked will prevent defendants from fully participating in their trials. There are also concerns about accidental shocks.
In Madison County, Sgt. Dan Collman says stun belts are used but have never been activated there, thanks to the psychological effect they have on inmates.
Abstracted by the National Law Enforcement and Corrections Technology Center(NLECTC) from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (07/05/05) P. A1; Patrick, Robert .