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Dangers of Detention: The Impact of Incarcerating Youth in Detention and Other Secure Facilities

NCJ Number
Barry Holman; Jason Zeidenburg
Date Published
24 pages
This report examines the impact of incarcerating youth in detention centers and other secure facilities.
As noted in the report, detention is a form of locked custody of youth who have been arrested but have not yet gone to trial. These facilities, the juvenile justice system's own form of jails, expose youth to an environment that is compatible with adult prisons and jails often giving rise to injuries that are associated with the imprisonment of an adult. This report describes the negative consequences that can arise from youth detention. These consequences include increased recidivism; congregating delinquent youth together negatively affects their behavior and increases their chance of re-offending; detention pulls youth deeper into the juvenile and criminal justice system; detention can slow or interrupt the natural process of aging out of delinquency; detention makes mentally ill youth worse; detained youth with special needs fail to return to school; and formerly detained youth have reduced success in the labor market. The report also details the larger economic impact that detention has on communities as a whole as well as alternatives to detention that are being used across the country. Tables, figures, and references