A juvenile correctional facility is an institution that houses minors who have been convicted of crimes and ordered out of society or those who are suspected of criminal behavior and who need to be detained during the course of their legal proceedings. Many of these facilities exist with the stated mission of rehabilitating these young people rather than punishing them. Although they are generally not referred to as prisoners or inmates as many adult offenders are, there are some similarities in how they are treated.
In many ways, a juvenile correctional facility is like an adult correctional facility. One of its primary functions is to contain criminal offenders. Youth who are in these facilities are there because of court order. They cannot leave until they are released, and their parents have no authority to demand that they be released. When a minor is in a juvenile correctional facility, she is usually a ward of the state.
Like jails and prisons, these facilities tend to have varying designs and degrees of security. In some cases, the setup is rather informal and may be reminiscent of a college campus. There may be lax and limited security measures, and the youth may be able to wear regular clothing. These facilities are normally used for young people who have committed minor or non-violent crimes.
Minors who have committed serious and violent crimes may be detained in institutions that are drastically different. These may closely resemble prisons with features such as cells secured with heavy doors and outside areas that are secured by walls and fences. The number of personnel dedicated to security is also likely to be higher. In these facilities, uniforms are usually mandatory.
In a juvenile correctional facility, young offenders are likely to be subjected to a wide range of regulations that affect their day to day lives. These can vary from one institution to another, but it is common for youth offenders to be required to eat in a group setting at specific times. They may have to wake up and have their lights turned off at a certain time. It is also common for these individuals to have restrictions on their use of telephones and their access to visitors.
The goal of a juvenile correctional facility is generally to rehabilitate instead of to punish. As such, the youth detained in these institutions are often provided with an array of services and programs. This includes educational and skill-building programs, psychological and family counseling, and recreational activities.