detainee | Definition

Doc's CJ Glossary by Adam J. McKee
Course: Corrections

In the corrections context, a detainee is a person held in custody by law enforcement or a government entity, typically awaiting trial or other legal proceedings.

A detainee is a person in custody, but not because they’ve been convicted of a crime. Instead, they are awaiting a court hearing, trial, deportation, or other legal proceedings. This could be for a variety of reasons, such as being accused of a crime, awaiting immigration proceedings, or being suspected of terrorism. It’s important to note that this does not mean the person is guilty. The legal principle of “innocent until proven guilty” applies here.

Where are Detainees Held?

Detainees are typically held in a variety of settings. These might include jails, detention centers, or other facilities designed for temporary or short-term confinement. The specific type of facility often depends on the reason for detention.

For example, someone awaiting trial for a crime might be held in a local jail. An individual awaiting immigration proceedings might be held in a detention center designed specifically for this purpose. The goal of these facilities is to ensure the person appears for their court date or other proceedings.

Rights and Protections for Detainees

Even though detainees are in custody, they still have certain rights and protections under the law. For instance, they have the right to an attorney to represent them in their legal proceedings. They also have the right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment, meaning they should not be subjected to harsh treatment or living conditions.

Other rights might include the right to communicate with family and friends, the right to medical care, and the right to practice their religion. Detainees also have the right to be treated fairly, regardless of their race, religion, nationality, or gender.

Differences in Rights and Protections

The specific rights and protections for detainees can vary. This often depends on the jurisdiction and the legal context. For instance, the rights of a detainee in a criminal case may be different from the rights of a detainee in an immigration case.

Some jurisdictions might have laws or policies that provide additional protections. Others might have more restrictive policies. It’s important for these individuals and their families to understand these rights and protections.

Challenges Facing Detainees

Being a detainee can be challenging. Detainees are often in a state of uncertainty, not knowing what will happen next. They might be separated from their families and might face language barriers or other challenges in navigating the legal system.

However, there are resources available to help. These might include legal aid services, advocacy groups, and other organizations dedicated to protecting the rights and well-being of detainees.

In conclusion, a detainee is a person who is in custody, typically awaiting trial or other legal proceedings. They are held in various types of facilities and have certain rights and protections under the law. However, being a detainee can be challenging, and understanding their rights and the resources available to them is crucial.

[ Glossary ]

Last Modified: 05/16/2023

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