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A youth detention center, also known as juvenile hall, is a secure residential facility for young people, often termed juvenile delinquents, awaiting court hearings and/or placement in long-term care facilities and programs. Juveniles are held in detention centers to ensure appearance in court and to protect public safety if less restrictive alternatives are not available or appropriate.

Juvenile detention is not intended to be punitive. Rather, juveniles held in secure custody usually receive care consistent with the doctrine of parens patriae, i.e., the state as parent. The state or local jurisdiction is usually responsible for providing education, recreation, health, assessment, counseling and other intervention services with the intent of maintaining a youth's well-being during his or her stay in custody. More intensive treatment and remedial activities are usually made available in dispositional facilities for sentenced youth, e.g., training schools, rehabilitation centers, correctional facilities.

Generally speaking, secure detention is reserved for juveniles considered to be a threat to public safety or the court process, though in many cases youth are held for violating a court order. Status offenders, i.e., juveniles charged with running away from home, alcohol possession, and other offenses that are not crimes if committed by adults, may only be held for short periods (six hours or less according to federal regulations) while initial case investigation is completed and other alternatives are arranged.

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