A juvenile hall, also known as a youth detention center, is a secure facility for young people, or juveniles. These offenders are usually awaiting court hearings or long-term disciplinary care programs for committing juvenile crimes, such as drug possession or robbery. Juveniles are typically held in a detention center to ensure they will appear at his or her appointed court date, as well as for public safety reasons.
The initiation of a juvenile criminal case starts with an arrest. If the offense is considered to be minor, the juvenile may be released to his or her guardians. If the offense is more serious, or if it is determined that he or she has violated probation, the offender is typically taken to juvenile hall to begin the booking process.
Part of the juvenile hall booking process generally involves a medical assessment. This is usually done to check for any injuries or to determine whether or not the juvenile is under the influence of alcohol or drugs. If it is determined that he or she is in unfit condition, then medical treatment will be given before booking continues. After the juvenile is searched for such things as narcotics and weapons, he or she is usually given clean clothes and assigned to a housing unit to await a detention hearing.
A detention hearing is where a judge determines whether the juvenile should be released to the care of his or her legal guardians. Unlike adults, juveniles are typically not able to be released on bail or given jury trials. In addition to the judge and the juvenile, the juvenile's attorney, guardians, and other necessary court officials are typically required to be present at the hearing.
While in juvenile hall, offenders might be placed in a housing unit where they typically will have one roommate. Usually, one-person rooms are reserved for those who display uncooperative or aggressive behavior. Juveniles usually have meals and educational instruction within the unit. Aside from release, they typically only leave their unit for visits with family members.
In addition to educational programs, juveniles might have other activities to participate in at a juvenile hall. Unless excused because of medical reasons, one hour of outdoor exercise per day is typically required. Generally, there are quiet times enforced in the units for reading, studying, or working on homework. Evening activities, such as board games or phone calls, are typically reserved only for those who demonstrate good behavior.