State institutions for the confinement of juvenile delinquents.
Any minor under a certain specified age, generally sixteen, who is guilty of having violated the law or has failed to obey the reasonable directive of his or her parent, guardian, or the court is ordinarily treated as a delinquent under state statute. The purpose of reformatories is to impose punishment for crimes committed by INFANTS while concurrently rehabilitating the offenders through educational and vocational training so that they will become law-abiding citizens.
The powers of a state to establish and maintain reformatories, as well as the authority of its agencies to do so, are ordinarily contained in constitutional or statutory provisions. Such authority is based upon the sovereign power of the state as PARENS PATRIAE to safeguard the welfare of children within its borders by removing them from harmful environments and putting them in institutions where their development will be supervised.
Reformatories—which are also known as houses of refuge, state vocational institutions, reform schools, juvenile correction centers, and industrial or training schools—are generally not considered prisons. In some states, however, they are part of the prison system with adult inmates.