Frequently Asked Questions
The Regional Youth Detention Center (RYDC)
Why is my child in detention?
Your child has been detained in a Regional Youth Detention Center (RYDC) for either a violation of law, or a violation of conditions set forth by his or her Court Probation Officer, Department of Juvenile Justice Juvenile Probation Parole Officer (JPPS), a Juvenile Court Judge or a Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) Administrative Hearing Officer.
Where is the RYDC located in which my child is being held and what is the telephone number?
Select the RYDC from the list shown on the DJJ web site. The link will give you the address, phone number and directions.
Why has my child been assigned to a facility that is not near our home?
DJJ makes every effort to place youths in a facility close to their home. From time to time, some youth need to be located at the next nearest facility because the youth may need particular services that aren't available at the closest facility or because the closest facility is at capacity. We do our best to accommodate local law enforcement, local courts and family considerations. Safety and security is paramount. Each facility has a functional capacity to supervise safely youth.
What will happen to my child once he/she enters the RYDC?
The child will be admitted and oriented to the RYDC in a timely and thorough manner. This will include physical (medical) and mental health assessments, an inventory of personal property, issue of state clothing, orientation to center rules and assignment of a room. A physical examination will be performed within 72 hours. His/her school records will be requested and youth will be placed in a school program, equivalent to his/her current grade placement.
Will I have contact with my child prior to the detention hearing?
Your child will be allowed to make a telephone call upon entrance into the RYDC. Any concerns can be addressed by the officer/personnel supervising the child's call.
Court Hearings, bond and dates
What is the date and time of my child's detention hearing?
A Detention Hearing will be held within 72 hours of the child being detained. If the judge decides to keep your child in detention, a full hearing shall be held within 10 days from the date that the petition is filed. Petitions must be filed within three days of the detention hearing (including weekends) if the child is detained.
Will my child be eligible for bond?
Parents and youth are advised that individuals have a right to bond, but the judge determines if bond will be an option for consideration in the matter pending. The court also establishes the bond amount. Depending upon the jurisdiction, the parent and or child may be referred to the District Attorney's Office, an intake officer and/or the Juvenile Court Clerk for further instructions on how to proceed with processing the request.
**If the juvenile has been appointed counsel, the parent/youth is referred back to the attorney of record. In some areas the child is advised of his/her right to bond at the time of Intake.
What if I can’t be in court for my child’s hearing?
It will be necessary for you to be in court for the hearing. If you cannot attend, you should contact court officials about your child’s case.
Will my child have a criminal record?
The Juvenile system is set up to protect your child from having a lifelong juvenile delinquency record. You may petition the court to seal your child's record at the end of the calendar year in which your child turns 17 (provided the case is not active).
If my child is released at the detention hearing, when will his/her final court hearing be held?
Upon receipt of the complaint, the worker has 30 days to process the complaint, including meeting with the child and family and filing petitions and 60 days to have a hearing. You must contact your child's intake or probation officer regarding scheduling of court.
Legal Representation for Youth
Should my child have legal representation in the Juvenile Court?
Yes, each youth should have legal representation in the Juvenile Court.
Will my child have a public defender?
Yes, all children that are detained are entitled to have a public defender to represent them for a detention hearing.
Or do I need to hire an attorney?
If you cannot afford an attorney and request that your child be appointed one, you will be directed to the public defender's office and will be interviewed by a representative of that office to see if you qualify. If you qualify, an attorney will be appointed. If you do not qualify, you will have to hire an attorney.
Detention Decision and Alternatives
Can my child be released into my custody after his/her detention hearing?
The judge will make the determination whether or not your child will remain in detention. This decision will be based on the child's previous legal history, current charge, seriousness of charge, assessments for measuring detention needs and the ability or inability of the parent to provide proper supervision.
Are there any alternatives to detention prior to the final hearing?
Yes, there are several alternatives that the department incorporates into its alternative detention program. The alternatives include tracking, electronic monitoring, wrap-around services and home restriction. These are all options for the judge's consideration. These are not guaranteed, but considered by the judge on a case by case basis. If your child is released on alternative detention - which is a form of detention - a hearing must be held within 30 days.
When will my child be released?
At the detention hearing, the judge shall determine at that time whether to release your child to your custody or to return him/her to detention to await the court hearing. If your child is held in detention until the court hearing, you may request an explanation from the court.
What could happen to my child if he/she is found guilty?
In the juvenile court system, a youth can be found Delinquent. Delinquent is to the juvenile system what guilty is to the adult system. The juvenile court could dispose of the charges in several ways after adjudication.
The case could be informally adjusted which means that the court could dismiss the charge after an informal probation period if the child completes what the court has ordered in the time specified and there are no new offenses.
The youth also could be put on probation - a period not to exceed two years in which the child will be assigned a probation officer and must abide by general terms of probation as well as any special terms of probation which could include restitution, community service work or restorative justice.
The youth could receive General Commitment - which means that legal custody is transferred temporarily to the State of Georgia to plan treatment and rehabilitation. A Standard Commitment order is good for two years.
More serious offenses that are heard in the juvenile court could result with a Designated Felon commitment. If your child is committed under this order, a sentence will be given by the judge who will include Restrictive Custody and the length of the commitment order will be five years.
A Department of Juvenile Justice Screening Committee will meet within 10 working days of Commitment to determine where your child will go for treatment and rehabilitation. Members of the screening committee may include an Assessment and Classification Specialist, the Juvenile Case Manager, a representative of the RYDC, the parent and the child.
When will my child be eligible for release under the Good Behavior Law?
Under the Good Behavior legislation, youth who demonstrate they are serious about taking responsibility for their actions and achieving rehabilitation have the opportunity to ask the court for an early release, reduction in confinement time or the termination of a commitment.
In order to qualify for these opportunities you must:
- Complete at least 12 months of secure confinement
- Be on gold card status at time of review
- Have no guilty findings for Class C rule violations
- Have no guilty findings for designated Class B rule violations in the past six months
- Have made substantial progress towards treatment and service plan objectives, as determined by the transition team
- Have completed sex offender treatment (if applicable)
- Have completed substance abuse treatment (if applicable)
- Have completed your high school diploma or GED, if applicable, or completed vocational certification program(s), or appropriate course completion based on your academic standing
- Have completed the Victim Impact of Crime Class
- Have a developed Restitution Plan (if applicable)
- You, your parent or guardian, or the Department of Juvenile Justice can file a motion with the juvenile court judge who committed you to the department. If your motion is denied, you may petition the court again in 12 months. If you have questions, please speak to your juvenile detention counselor
When can my child call me and how will I speak to my child?
Generally, your child will be allowed an intake telephone call upon the child's arrival at the RYDC and prior to his/her detention hearing. After the first call, he/she will be allowed to receive or make one free call each week.
May I send my child mail while he/she is in detention?
Yes, you may send your child mail while he/she is in detention. In addition, your child may write as many letters as he/she wishes during designated times. However, unless you provide the RYDC with extra postage stamps, the child will only be provided postage for two postcards per week.
What are the visitation hours and what may I bring my child?
Please contact the facility where your child is being held for visitation days and hours. Contraband cannot be brought into the facility (i.e. alcohol, cigarettes, money, gum, snacks, drugs, weapons) and violators will be prosecuted. Snack machines are available at the facility. You may purchase snacks for your child but they must be consumed during the visitation.
Can a person outside of immediate family be placed on my child's call or visitation list?
No; however, exceptions are made for the child's attorney or pastor.
Whom should I contact regarding my child's well-being while he/she is detained at the RYDC?
Your child will be assigned a counselor at the facility while he/she is in detention. You may also contact the nurse regarding any medical questions or issues.
Personal Items and Cash
Does my child need money to buy personal items while in detention?
Your child will be provided the necessities for his/her stay at the RYDC. The RYDC cannot and will not hold money for anyone in detention.
Does my child need underwear, other clothing, a tooth brush or toiletries while in detention?
All clothing and personal hygiene items will be provided by the RYDC.
Medical and Mental Health Issues
My child is/has prescribed medication and cannot miss taking it. How do I know he/she is receiving it and taking it?
The RYDC has a fully staffed medical department and they will address the medical needs of your child. You may bring your child's medicine, eye glasses, hearing aids or other items of medical necessity to the RYDC. The medicine will be given to the child by qualified RYDC staff as directed by the prescription.
What if my child gets sick or injured?
Medical staff is onsite and you will be notified immediately. The RYDC is equipped with a medical clinic. There are nurses present with a physician on standby. If a serious situation occurs, then the child will be taken to an emergency room for treatment.
My child was seeing a mental health counselor at home. Can that continue?
DJJ employs excellent mental health staff in facilities who can work with your child. Contact the mental health director at your child's facility to discuss the issue further.
How does the RYDC ensure my child's safety?
The highest priority of the management of the facility is that every effort is made to ensure that each resident is kept safe and secure. To that end, strict protocols are in place to ensure the safety of residents and staff. In addition, each facility's staff is required to complete training and certification on proper and/or appropriate management of juveniles in a detention setting. For specific instructions governing the rules, regulations and operation of the facility in which their child is being detained, parents are invited to contact the District Director, Director or Assistant Director of the respective RYDC.
Whom should I contact if I have a complaint?
A complaint box is located at the facility or you may contact your child's counselor or the Director or Assistant Director of the RYDC. You may also contact DJJ's Office of the Ombudsman.
Will my child be sharing a room with another juvenile?
Your child will be assigned a room of his/her own. Only in extraordinary cases do youths share a room and when that occurs, utmost care is taken by RYDC staff to place the child with the appropriate roommate to assure your child's and the other youth's safety.
What about my child missing school? Will he/she lose credit?
You should be notified that your child will be involved in educational classes while in detention and that RYDC school time will count in reference to actual days missed at your child's community school. The department has certified instructors, including Special Education instructors in all classrooms. You or the child may request that a copy of his/her records be forwarded to the child's home school upon discharge from the RYDC. Additional technical skills courses include:
- Computer skills
- Culinary Arts
- Forklift Training
Can my child graduate from high school or earn his or her GED while committed?
As Georgia's 181st school district, DJJ offers youth in our custody the opportunity to earn a high school diploma from a system accredited by AdvanceED.