When a juvenile is accused of committing a crime in Ohio, juvenile court judges must determine whether to detain the child pretrial in a juvenile jail or permit the child to go home to await trial. Whereas alleged adult offenders have the right to pay a monetary bond to be released from jail pretrial, juveniles have no such right. Thus, once a judge makes the decision to detain a juvenile pretrial—prior to being adjudicated delinquent of any crime—it is difficult for that decision to be undone. While incarcerated, juveniles suffer irreversible psychological, emotional, mental, and social harms, despite juvenile courts being created on the principles of treatment and rehabilitation for less culpable juvenile offenders.

The Ohio Rules of Juvenile Procedure dictate the circumstances in which a judge may detain a child pretrial. These rules, however, are overly vague and provide juvenile court judges too much discretion in determining when to remand a child pretrial, ultimately violating juveniles’ due process rights. This Note argues that the Ohio Rules of Juvenile Procedure governing pretrial detention should be revised to restrict the use of pretrial detention for only the most violent juvenile offenders and reserve pretrial detention for use only as a last resort. Limiting the use of juvenile pretrial detention in these ways will give Ohio children a fighting chance at a successful adult future.