When a juvenile––a person at or below the age of jurisdiction in a state––commits a crime, he/she may be sentenced to time in a juvenile detention center. The duration of a juvenile's stay can be the result of a committed offense or due to an awaited court date. According to the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, the detained youths "experience a disruption in their normal routines, schooling, and family/social relationships." Certain amenities are permitted, with rules and regulations differing depending on the facility and individual state regulations.
Visitation days, hours, lengths and rules depend on the policy of each individual detention center. Some facilities only permit parental visitations, while others simply limit visitations to three per day. Visitors are required to sign in with a valid photo ID, such as a state drivers license and turn over all personal property to the facility for the duration of the visit. In some cases, visitors must adhere to a dress code, which generally prohibits overly revealing clothing. Most detention centers permit visits from clergy or lawyers, either on a predetermined visitation day or at the discretion of the facility.
Upon admission to a juvenile facility, youths are permitted to make a phone call to a parent or guardian, an attorney or in some cases to arrange for bond. For the duration of their stay, the allotment of inmate phone calls depends on the rules of the detention center. All calls must be placed collect and accepted by the receiver of the inmate's phone call. Phone privileges are often revoked if the inmate makes obscene, threatening or harassing calls.
Inmates are generally allowed to receive an unlimited amount of mail at a detention center. Facilities do not read the mail but they do screen for contraband items such as pictures, money and gang- or drug-related materials. Some detention centers permit youths to receive books or magazines if sent directly from a publisher or retailer, but may limit the amount or content allowed. Materials that are sexually explicit, instructional in the the making of drugs or explosives, or express religious, racial or national hatred are strictly prohibited.
Possession of Personal Items
During the inmate's stay, the detention center holds all the property he/she possessed upon admission in a safe and secure location. The property is returned after release. Some permitted items, depending on the rules of a particular facility, include eye glasses or a simple wedding band. Youths cannot bring their own medications––the health center at the facility will assess their medical situation. At most facilities the possession of money is prohibited.
Education and Recreation
Many youth detention centers adhere to the regular school year, providing schooling and education to inmates during their stay. Most have libraries available for inmate use with privileges depending on the discretion of each detention center. An outdoor recreation yard is usually available, in which horseplay, fighting or other disturbances are cause for punishment.
- prison image by Albert Lozano from Fotolia.com