detention center | Definition

Doc's CJ Glossary by Adam J. McKee
Course: Introduction

A detention center is a  facility where people (often juveniles) are held for a short period of time awaiting a court appearance or other legal action.

This term is often used synonymously with jail.  The term is especially popular with juvenile short-term detention facilities.

The term detention facility is also commonly used.

A detention center is a type of facility used by the criminal justice system to hold individuals who are awaiting a court appearance or other legal action. This can include both adult and juvenile offenders who have been arrested and are being held for a short period of time, typically less than one year. The term “detention center” is often used interchangeably with “jail,” although there are some differences between the two.

One key difference between a detention center and a jail is the length of time that individuals are held there. Jails are typically used for longer-term incarceration, while detention centers are designed for shorter stays. This is why detention centers are often used for juveniles who are awaiting trial or other legal action, as they are designed to provide a more appropriate setting for young people who may not have been convicted of a crime.

Detention centers can take many different forms, depending on the jurisdiction and the specific needs of the population being served. They may be standalone facilities or located within a larger correctional complex. They may also be operated by local, state, or federal authorities, depending on the nature of the offense and the level of government involved.

In addition to providing a safe and secure environment for individuals who are awaiting court appearances or other legal action, detention centers also have a number of other important functions. They may provide educational and vocational programs to help individuals prepare for their return to society, or they may offer counseling and mental health services to address underlying issues that may have contributed to their criminal behavior.

Detention centers also play an important role in maintaining public safety by preventing individuals who are deemed a risk to society from being released before their case has been resolved. This is especially important in cases where a violent or dangerous offender has been arrested and is awaiting trial, as it allows law enforcement agencies to keep them off the streets and out of harm’s way.

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Last Modified: 04/20/2023

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