Remove Shackles from 13 Year Old Cristian Fernandez
  • Petitioned John Rutherford

This petition was delivered to:

Jacksonville Sheriff
John Rutherford
Jacksonville Sheriff's Office
Lt. Steve Weintraub
Judge Mallory D. Cooper

Remove Shackles from 13 Year Old Cristian Fernandez

    1. Petition by

      Alicia Torres

      jacksonville, FL

February 2012


On February 27, 13-year-old Cristian Fernandez  appeared in a Jacksonville, Florida courtroom without wearing the metal shackles on his hands and legs that have been placed on him for the last year. The shackling took place despite Florida's Supreme Court banning the indiscriminate shackling children in 2009 - a practice the court called "repugnant, degrading [and] humiliating." Over 2,300 people joined the campaign calling on Cristian's shackles to be removed. Most of these people were Florida citizens appalled to learn how their state had been treating Fernandez.

The grassroots efforts to remove Cristian's shackles were spearheaded by Alicia Torres, a Jacksonville, FL mother whose children attended school with Cristian, and Melissa Higgins, the NH mother and child advocate who helped tell the world that Cristian was being unfairly tried as an adult. 

According to the The Florida Times-Union, Circut Judge Mallory Cooper granted a motion filed by Fernandez’s new team of defense attorneys to remove his leg restraints and handcuffs last week. And he will remain unshackled for future court appearances.

Nearly 200,000 people have signed a second petition calling for Cristian's case to be moved back to the juvenile court. 

You can sign that petition here: 

An Open Letter to Duval County Judge Mallory Cooper and Lt. Steve Weintraub of Jacksonville Sherrif's Office

We are writing to you in the hopes that you will allow 13 year-old Cristian Fernandez to attend his hearings and trial without being shackled. 

The Florida Supreme Court banned the indiscriminate shackling of juveniles in 2009 stating "We find the indiscriminate shackling of children in Florida courtrooms as described in the NJDC's Assessment repugnant, degrading, humiliating and contrary to the stated primary purposes of the juvenile justice system and to the principles of therapeutic justice,"  in an unsigned 6-1 opinion.

Because Cristian is being tried in adult court, there is a loophole that allows him to be shackled. But the shackling of this young child is not necessary for the safety of others or to keep Cristian from escaping. The use of shackles on him is a dehumanizing and degrading act. 

The decision to move Cristian's case to the adult courts is hotly contested by hundreds of thousands of people throughout the world - many are citizens of our great state. But that's not what this is about. Common sense, human kindness, and Florida state law tells us that the shackling of a 13 year old boy is wrong - thats why the Supreme Court banned it unless absolutely necessary.  

This petition is meant only as a means of showing you that there is widespread support for Florida's statutes against shackling children. We understand this is an unusual and complicated case and thank you for your service - but we also hope you will take into account that Cristian Fernandez has been in custody for nearly a year now and has not had any incidents or indication that he needs to be shackled. 

I started this petition because I am a parent and the mother of one of Cristian's former classmates. I believe in Florida's statutes against shackling juveniles and I believe in our country's system of due process which says that Cristian is innocent until proven guilty. 

Please do the right thing and allow Cristian to attend his hearings without shackles. 

Recent signatures


    1. Reached 2,500 signatures
    2. Victory! Judge Orders Shackles Removed from Cristian Fernandez

      Jonathan Perri
      Deputy Campaign Director

      Cristian Fernandez appeared in a Jacksonville, Florida courtroom this week without wearing the metal shackles on his hands and legs that have been placed on him for the last year. News of the 13-year-old's shackling inspired over 2,300 people to...

    3. Reached 2,000 signatures
    4. Several dozen show for Cristian Fernandez rally

      Jonathan Perri
      Deputy Campaign Director

      Several dozen people attended a grass roots rally this morning supporting Jacksonville teen murder defendant Cristian Fernandez.

      The protesters are opposed to Fernandez's incaceration and want the 13-year-old to be tried as a juvenile in the death of his 2-year-old half-brother, David.

      The group marched around the Duval County Courthouse and Courthouse Annex several times. It also released 13 balloons to honor Fernandez and two to honor David.

    5. Reached 500 signatures
    6. Rally for Cristian Fernandez, February 8 in Jacksonville, FL

      Jonathan Perri
      Deputy Campaign Director

      On February 8th, 2012, please join parents, clergy, and medical professionals at 7am in front of the Duval County Courthouse in Jacksonville, Florida (330 East Bay Street), in a peaceful protest against the handling of Cristian Fernandez in the adult...

    7. Cristian Fernandez Gets Dream Defense Team

      Jonathan Perri
      Deputy Campaign Director

      With Public Defender Matt Shirk stepping down from the case, Cristian Fernandez's new dream team is full of all- stars lawyers:

      Buddy Schulz and Adam Blank of Holland and Knight, Don Anderson and Melissa Nelson of McGuire Wood, Hank Coxe of Bidell Dittman, Bryan Gowdy of Creedy and Gowdy, and Grady Thomas of Law Offices of Grady Thomas.

      This is great news for Cristian!

    8. Reached 250 signatures
    9. Public Defender withdraws from Cristian Fernandez case

      Jonathan Perri
      Deputy Campaign Director

      Public Defender Matt Shirk reversed course this morning and withdrew from representing murder defendant Cristian Fernandez, paving the way for a judge to approve a takeover of the case by a coalition of high-powered attorneys sought by the teen's guardian.

    10. Reached 200 signatures
    11. Will Florida Shackle A Child Next Month?

      Jonathan Perri
      Deputy Campaign Director

      In 2009, the Florida Supreme Court ruled in favor of limiting the shackling of children in Florida courtrooms. In fact, they called the practice "repugnant, degrading [and] humiliating." But because he's being tried as an adult in Jacksonville,...

    12. Reached 100 signatures


    Reasons for signing

    • Amber Willey STRATFORD, TX
      • over 2 years ago

      that photo of such a young child cuffed and hurts my heart to look at it. How can they so blatantly break the law like this? But mostly, how can they so blatantly abuse this child?

      • over 2 years ago

      Crazy!!! What can a little boy do in court with so many adults ard??? The guy beside him is so big, the little boy runs, he can just lift him up with 1 hand, still need shackles???

    • Brenda Marean SALEM, MA
      • over 2 years ago

      This child needs psychological care, not further detention.

    • Paula Thompson CLINTON TWP, MI
      • over 2 years ago

      Very glad for your victory :)

    • Jim Price FORT OGLETHORPE+, TN
      • over 2 years ago

      I have been to juvanile court and find shackles offensive


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