Preventive detention legislation enables an individual to be incapacitated to prevent harm from occurring either before they cause harm or to stop them causing more harm. Preventive detention legislation stands in contrast to the traditional retrospective orientation of the criminal justice system, whereby the state responds to harm that has occurred, such as by prosecuting and punishing criminal acts. There are many types of preventive detention legislation, including those

  • prescribing limited or indefinite detention;
  • prescribing detention in a prison or other institutional setting, such as a mental health facility;
  • empowering a judge or member of the executive to order detention; and
  • directed at persons who have been charged with a criminal offense, convicted of a criminal offense, or neither.

A common feature of contemporary preventive detention legislation is a ...

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