Understandably, for any business or office to run
efficiently and effectively, certain elements must be in place. Certainly, an
organization must have the raw materials with which to work and the money for
these materials must come from somewhere. On top of this, a particular entity
must have the knowledge and skills to know how to best utilize that money.
The nature of grants for youth detention centers follows
somewhat of a trickle-down effect. Of course, an individual youth detention
center will have its own director at the helm and a
treasury/finances/accounting department to handle budgeting and other financial
issues, but they have their own responsibilities without being fundraisers too.
For financing youth detention centers at the State
level, there are a few routes by which the U.S. Federal Government
may allocate monies to the states. Most youth detention centers, though,
operate at the county level, and so a second handing down of monies must occur.
It should be noted that even if Federal
monies are not specifically designed for criminal and juvenile justice, if they
are employed in the service of children and the public interest, they may be
used toward the costs of building and running youth detention centers. For
example, there is precedence for states allocating stimulus money from the U.S.
Department of Education to this very cause.
In the United States, the 19th Century marked the beginning of the use of juvenile
detention center facilities. Juvenile detention programs were really only a
subset of a larger American effort toward “reformatory” institutions
and attitudes that also encompassed rehabilitation of young women (usually
those pregnant out of wedlock) and young adult men (who were found guilty of
some crime or vice).
The name “reformatory” in itself is a synonym for a center was multifaceted. Not only were
its residents meant to be reformed in terms of abiding by the laws of man, but
their religious spirit was also to be
reformed as part of the country’s Protestant lineage.
As for the concept of the juvenile detention center in
particular, some institutions really took the idea of parens patriae to
heart. As surrogate caretakers, many juvenile detention facilities sought to
provide for their resident minors on all counts, including educating them in
the hopes of immunizing them against the ills of society. Thus, a juvenile
detention center might have been
referred to in the past as a “reformatory school.”
The legacy of detention centers as places of learning is
one of decidedly mixed success, as curricula were not subject to today’s more
rigorous standards and some schools even lost sight of their educational goals
in trying to maintain disciplinarian sensibilities. To some extent, though,
detention centers still provide educative resources and other amenities.
Another critical mission of juvenile detention that was
prominent in past years and, though to a lesser extent, is focused on in more
recent times in the United States is the idea of vocational training. Granted,
school-age education was still of primary importance among centers, but in
terms of job and life skills, some heads of facilities saw a mandate to attend
to these concerns.
Probably the most famous of these centers, which was not
actually a juvenile detention center but nonetheless had all the elements of a
juvenile reformatory, was the Elmira Reformatory, founded in and helmed by
Zebulon Brockway in 1876. The Reformatory, which provided vocational classes,
physical activity and education to its delinquent male inhabitants, is remembered by some for its contributions to
differentiating between adult and juvenile criminals.
However, reports also suggest Brockway ruled Elmira
with an iron fist, often keeping inmates in line through acts of violence.
consequences of holding juvenile delinquents in locked-door facilities loom
largest for the offending minors themselves. Exposure to juvenile courts,
detention centers and other out-of-home destinations for juvenile offenders
portends poorly for their ability to stay out of trouble as an adult.
Recidivism (repeated arrests and/or criminal convictions) of adult populations
is much higher for those individuals with a juvenile record
As one might imagine, the immediate consequences of
finding oneself in a juvenile institution are troubling in their own right and
are only exacerbated by juvenile incarceration in an all-purpose correctional
facility. Juvenile delinquents forced into a prison-like environment are at
risk of violence, abuse, and rape
Of lesser importance but still not to be discounted,
juvenile detention has its practical concerns. It is rather expensive to
operate so many facilities designed to feed, clothe, house, educate, and
rehabilitate thousands of American boys and girls, and realistically, little is
done about treating the causes of delinquency in this country. Children are
essentially held captive to the point of overcrowding in centers and jails and often
become still more of a danger to those living outside the walls of these
suggest that the juvenile delinquent stands to suffer severely from even
short-term stays in secure detention centers, and subsequently, supporters seek
substitutes to this seemingly simplistic solution. Specifically, advocates for
disaffected children aim to find alternatives to locking juvenile delinquents
away until something more appropriate is found for them, and moreover, these
alternatives would likely be cost-effective ways of addressing the need for
keeping offenders close at hand before and after adjudication.
following are other types of facilities that may be used in this country to
temporarily hold the juvenile delinquent populace: