What Is Juvenile Detention?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 23 February 2020
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Juvenile detention is the temporary confinement of juveniles. Detention may be ordered for a number of different reasons, including concerns that a juvenile is a risk to him or herself and others, the need for a secure facility to hold a juvenile who is awaiting placement, or the need for an incarceration facility which meets the needs of juveniles, because most nations do not allow prison systems to keep juveniles in the general population. People in juvenile detention are commonly sent to juvenile or youth detention facilities, sometimes known as “juvie.”

Juveniles present some special problems to the legal system. Many governments allow children to be taken out of dangerous environments and placed elsewhere, including in situations where those juveniles have committed crimes, creating the need for facilities to hold juveniles awaiting placement. It is also commonly recognized that juvenile suspects and criminals should not be held with adults for safety reasons. Furthermore, because the incarceration of children is sometimes controversial, special needs must be met in detention facilities, with the state effectively acting as parent rather than penal administrator in these facilities.


A juvenile detention facility must be safe and secure for the occupants of the facility. It also needs to provide access to counseling, mental health services, general health services, education, recreation, and legal assistance for occupants. Commonly, incarcerated juveniles also have access to programs such as addiction treatment schemes and community service programs which are designed to help people get out of gangs. The goal with juvenile detention is often rehabilitation, rather than punishment.

Juveniles can be held while they await trial if there are concerns about what might happen if they are allowed to be free. Detention can also sometimes be ordered for legal infractions or as a form of protective custody. In these cases, juveniles are explicitly not being punished, they are being detained, and their stay in detention is limited by law. Juveniles who have been convicted of crimes may be held in another area of a juvenile detention facility.

Criticism of juvenile detention has attracted attention in several nations. Some critics believe that detention is not beneficial and can in fact be very harmful for juveniles, especially if they are in facilities which do not adequately meet their needs. These critics have suggested that there may be alternatives to detention which meet the same goals without putting youth at risk of things like violence, untreated mental illness, and lack of access to education in detention facilities.


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Post 4

@JimmyT - Wow I never realized how much tax money goes into sending young adolescents to juvenile detention.

I have always thought that juvenile detention does not have a very high success rate because of the numerous drop outs that occur by the students before they graduate.

I live in Illinois and you can drop out of school when you turn seventeen. From my experience with many of these students they are simply waiting until they turn seventeen so they can drop out of school. If they are not forced for some reason by the courts stay at juvenile detention then they are free to go and they do not receive the education that they need. They also, in reality, become

a waste of tax payer money as they are only there to wait it out until they can drop out.

I wonder if it is legal for states to make requirements for students that are sent to juvenile hall to stay there for a certain amount of time. There may be and there may be a problem with when they turn eighteen and officially become an adult, but then again this can be a very touchy subject and something that requires attention from everyone, especially those that fund these programs and the state legislators.

Post 3

@cardsfan27 - I work in a school and a major problem that occurs when sending a student to juvenile detention is the amount of money it costs in order to do so.

Because juvenile detention is a state run institution it is paid for with tax payer money. Because these students are special needs, people with a specialty need to be hired in order to teach them. It has been calculated at the school I work at that it costs between fifteen and twenty thousand dollars in order to send a student to juvenile hall. Because of this enormous costs and the economy the way it is it almost becomes a last resort to send a student to juvenile hall.


is unfortunate because the students cannot be reached at the school they are at and they are usually problems at the school so it is a bad situation for everyone and a problem that the state board of education needs to fix.
Post 2

I live in a rural area and where I live there is a juvenile detention home and it is a little different than one may be in the cities.

Usually the kids that are sent to a juvenile detention hall where I live have such behavioral problems that they have to be removed from the local schools either because they are a threat to other students or staff or are a disruption in the classroom.

Most of the time where I live juvenile detention does not necessarily hold criminal juveniles. This does happen once in awhile but for the most part it is utilized as a place for students with behavioral problems and special needs to try and be reached by staff and properly educated.

Unfortunately, for many of these students there is little that can be done to reach them and they eventually drop out despite the amount of effort to try and reach them.

Post 1

I know someone that works at a school in the behavioral disorder class. Many times a student will act out to the point that they either become a threat to the teachers or their fellow students and they must be removed from class.

Most of the time when this happens, they simply get put in the assistant principal's office to cool down and they may be suspended from school for a short time.

However, if the student continues such behavior and become a nuisance in the classroom they are sent to juvenile detention either until their behavior improves, they stay there and graduate, or they become old enough that they can drop out of school completely.

Quite often it comes

down to the student being sent to juvenile detention in hopes that their behavior will improve so they can be sent back to their school, but quite often that is usually the last school they go to and they eventually drop out of school completely.

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