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A youthful offender is a child, or person under the age of legal adulthood, who commits a crime. For example, in many places, a youthful offender is a person who commits a crime while under the age of 18. A minor may be guilty of committing a crime for acts that are considered criminal at any age or for acts that are only illegal for minors.
Minors may be considered youthful offenders if they engage in acts that are illegal for people of any age. This includes minor crimes, such as shoplifting, disorderly conduct, and petty theft. It also includes crimes that are serious, such as those involving a deadly weapon, stealing large sums of money, rape, and murder. There are also some acts that are only considered crimes when youthful offenders commit them. For example, a minor may be guilty of a crime in some places if he buys and consumes alcoholic beverage, runs away from home, or skips school without his parents' permission.
Many jurisdictions have special laws and programs for youthful offenders. For example, youthful offenders may be placed in juvenile detention centers or juvenile halls rather than in jails with adult inmates. Such facilities are often residential, which means offenders live there while waiting for court hearings and sentencing as well as before they are placed in long-term detention programs. Often, stays in youth detention centers are meant to ensure offenders do not continue to be a danger to society or skip court appearances.
During a stay in a juvenile detention center, young offenders must follow the center’s routine, which often includes a strict schedule of activities. Youthful offenders usually attend a center-operated school program that provides credit toward graduation once they are released. They are also given opportunities to exercise and participate in counseling. Religious services are often provided for those who wish to participate as well.
Some regions have special youth prisons for those who’ve been convicted of crimes and received prison sentences. These prisons are often similar to adult prisons but have special programs designed to rehabilitate and support youth. For example, youth offenders may be able to take advantage of educational and training classes that prepare them for life after prison. They may have counseling, religious worship opportunities, and the chance to participate in time-limited recreational activities with other youth offenders. Sometimes youthful prisoners are given the opportunity to participate in community volunteer programs as well.