Legal Rights in a Juvenile Correctional Institution

This article focuses on the effect on juvenile correctional institutions of the erosion of the “hands-off” doctrine and the introduction of procedural safeguards in the juvenile justice system. In so doing, the article examines the difficulties inherent in any attempt to reform institutional practices and procedures to accommodate the goals of the juvenile correctional model. In the juvenile context, the extent to which fundamental rights need or may be abrogated to allow the institution freedom to rehabilitate and treat its inmates is crucial. Therefore, this article examines three areas involving fundamental constitutional rights: imposition of punitive segregation, freedom of communication, and post-adjudicative disciplinary proceedings. The article discusses the traditional judicial stance regarding these issues in the adult institutional setting and suggests that each issue is affected differently by the juvenile character of the institution’s inmates, the nature of the process by which the youth is committed, and the treatment orientation of many juvenile correction centers. Throughout the article the institutional need for flexibility in choosing and carrying out treatment methods is balanced against the need for procedural safeguards to ensure that the rehabilitative purpose is carried out with respect for minimal requirements of fairness and decency.