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Juvenile detention center facts

Updated July 19, 2017

Juvenile detention centres are secured facilities used to house young people in trouble with the law. Youths awaiting either a trial or placement in another care facility are often placed in juvenile detention for security purposes.

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It is estimated that over 300,000 juveniles are incarcerated within detention centres, and another 100,000 return to those facilities as they await legal action.

Living Conditions

Juvenile detention centres are supposed to provide education, nutrition, health care, and recreation to all residents. But overcrowding is common, leading to tension between residents and staff, resulting in violence and suicide attempts.

Developmental Impact

"Time" magazine reported in 2009 that detention centres often increase bad behaviour once incarcerated youths are released, a trend that follows them into adulthood. The article states that "those who ended up being sentenced to juvenile prison were 37 times more likely to be arrested again as adults."

Peer Pressure

The same "Time" article points out that when troubled juveniles are housed with other troubled juveniles, they influence one another, encouraging bad behaviour instead of correcting it.

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About the Author

Steven Surman has been a freelance writer and journalist since 2007. His work has appeared in several magazines, including “The Humanist” and “A&U.” He is also a staff writer for the Broken Frontier website. Surman holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism and English from Bloomsburg University.

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