In general, most DJS youth are released to the custody of their parents or are placed on community detention. In situations where the youth is a risk to themselves or the public or at risk to not appear for future court dates, juvenile courts may order that a youth be detained in a secure facility.

Community-Based Alternatives to Detention

As required by Maryland law, juvenile courts strive to detain youth in the least restrictive setting as possible. One detention alternative is known as shelter care, which places a youth in a short-term non-secure housing program while they wait to go to court. Another detention alternative is a Day and Evening Reporting Center (DERC). This type of program allows the youth to live at home but the youth is required to report to a DERC on a daily basis to ensure that he/she is monitored and returns to court.

DJS's Community Detention Program operates as another alternative to secure detention. Community Detention allows youth to live at home and continue to participate in activities like school or work. While they reside at home, the youth is under DJS supervision that includes face-to-face and telephone contacts as well as unannounced visits to home, school and work.

A court may also order that personal supervision by DJS staff may be supplemented by Electronic Monitoring. This additional layer of supervision can include voice-recognition to verify a youth's voice over the telephone, an electronic monitoring ankle bracelet to record when a youth is at his/her house and when he/she leaves, or a global positioning system that records the youth's locations and sends notifications to a centrally-operated command center.

Secure Detention

For youth who are risks to themselves or others or are at risk to not appear for their next court date, juvenile courts are permitted to order a youth to be placed in a secure detention program. DJS operates all of the secure detention facilities in Maryland. All of the juvenile detention facilities in Maryland are operated by DJS and are "hardware secure," which means that the facility primarily relies on the use of construction and hardware such as locks, bars and fences to restrict the movement of the youth residing there.

Every youth who is admitted to a secure detention facility takes part in an admission interview by a DJS admissions officer to collect and verify basic information. Additionally, the admissions process involves an initial health screening to review the youth's physical, mental and substance abuse needs. Within 7 days of admission, a licensed physician or nurse practitioner performs a full medical history and physical examination. A youth is additionally receives a mental health screening by a qualified mental health professional to determine any mental health issues and, if needed, a more in-depth analysis will be performed by a licensed psychiatrist or psychologist. Each youth also receives a substance abuse screening.

While residing at a secure detention facility, all youth have access to medical, behavioral, counseling, dietary and educational services and engage in recreational activities. Youth in a secure detention facility attend school five days a week for six hours a day year round. DJS serves two distinct populations of youth in its secure detention facilities: pre-disposition youth and post-disposition youth. Pre-disposition youth are waiting to go to court for their final adjudicatory hearing. Post-disposition youth have already been adjudicated and ordered by a judge to be placed in a treatment program and are waiting for a space to open in a treatment program.