Child Crime Prevention & Safety Center


There are a number of unique issues facing juveniles who are adjudicated guilty of juvenile offenses and are required to serve a sentence in custody. In theory, juvenile correction facilities are intended to rehabilitate minors and prepare them for reentry into society. In reality, juveniles in these facilities often face abuse and other threats. In the most serious cases in certain states, juvenile offenders can be sentenced to serve time in adult prisons, which can be extremely harmful to the minor. Minors in custody are more likely to suffer long-term physical and mental health consequences and may be more likely to reoffend once released. Many states have instituted juvenile camps and other alternatives to incarceration to encourage education and rehabilitation of the minor.


Minors who commit serious criminal offenses, who are on probation for earlier offenses or who have lengthy juvenile records may face confinement in a state juvenile detention facility. When a minor is arrested for a criminal offense, he or she may be cited out or may be held in a county-operated locked facility pending his or her first court appearance. Unlike adult offenders, California juvenile offenders are not able to post bail to secure their release pending disposition of a case, however the juvenile court judge may be willing to release the minor under strict conditions of release, such as the requirement to wear a home monitoring bracelet, a curfew, or intensive supervision by the juvenile probation department.

If a juvenile petition is sustained against the minor offender, he or she can be released to the custody of his or her parents, be placed into the foster care system, be sent to a probation camp program or, in the most serious cases, be sentenced to serve time in a locked juvenile detention facility. In some cases, a minor will remain in a locked juvenile facility until he or she ages out, at which point they would be transferred to an adult prison facility. The use of solitary confinement in these facilities has increasingly faced criticism from experts and can cause psychological and emotional damage to minors in critical stages of their development.

Alternatives to Confinement

Increasingly, communities throughout the country have explored alternatives to confinement as studies have shown the detrimental effects that long-term confinement can have on young people. Minors pending an adjudication hearing or those who have been found guilty may be placed under house arrest under strict terms and conditions of probation. This minimizes disruption and allows the minor to remain in the community, which has been shown to be an important factor in achieving rehabilitation. In some cases, the minor may not have a safe home environment and he or she may be placed into specialized foster care or into a group home. While under house arrest, the minor may have to wear a monitoring bracelet or keep in close contact with his or her probation office. In some cases, the juvenile court judge may require that the minor attend a juvenile probation camp before being released home.