Juvenile justice is the area of criminal law for a person not old enough to be held responsible for their criminal actions (“Juvenile Justice”). In most states this kind of categorization is determined by age, set at eighteen years old. In general, juvenile law is governed by state law and most states have an individual juvenile code set in place that contributes to the number of youth in detention centers today (“Juvenile Justice”). Despite the lowest youth crime rates in twenty years, according to Holman and Ziedenberg (2006), hundreds of thousands of juveniles are locked away each year. Detention centers are intended to provide temporary housing for youth who are described as having high risk of re-offence before trial or who are likely to not attend their trial at all.
The problem starts because the nation’s use of detention is rising, and facilities are packed with young who do not meet the high risk standards. About seventy percent of youth detained are arrested for nonviolent offenses (Holman & Ziedenberg, 2006). So my question is how do all of the negative effects associated with youth detention centers warrant an arrest for a child who is not harmful toward himself or others? The juvenile justice system, across the board, stays true to the statement that the purpose of their programs are to focus on rehabilitation and not punishment to the youth. So why then do youth in detention often have higher rates of emotional trauma, unstable and unsavory home lives, histories of violence, behavioral problems, and learning disabilities when compared to youth who never see the inside of such a facility (Koyama, 2012)? The negative effects from youth centers break down into physical, mental, social and emotional issues in the juvenile’s lives.
Basics of Juvenile Justice and Detention Centers
Youth who are taken into custody by law enforcement, are first screened by the Department of Juvenile Justice to determine if they should be detained in a detention facility or released to their guardians (“Juvenile Justice”). If the Youth is described as being a risk to themselves or others, they must remain in a detention center while awaiting court (“Detention Services”). On the other hand, youth in custody for minor crimes, that are not considered a risk to public safety, may be released to the custody of their parents or guardian, while awaiting court proceedings (“Detention Services”). Within twenty four hours of detainment, youth attend their court hearing where the judge decides whether or not they shall continue serving time in the detention center and if so, how long they will be detained (“Detention Services”). Generally there is a 21-day limit to secure detention, but those charged with serious offenses can be held up to 30 days (“Detention Services”). The amount of time detained depends upon the limit, differing state to state.
Detention is the custody status for youth who are held following to a court order or after being taken into custody...