Detainer (from detain, Latin detinere); in law, the act of keeping a person against his will, or the wrongful keeping of a person's goods, or other real or personal property. A writ of detainer was a form for the beginning of a personal action against a person already lodged within the walls of a prison; it was superseded by the Judgment Act 1838.
A detainer in the criminal law context is a request filed by a criminal justice agency with the institution in which a prisoner is incarcerated, asking the institution either to hold the prisoner for the agency or to notify the agency when release of the prisoner is imminent.[1] The Supreme Court has held that the Interstate Agreement on Detainers Act[2] allows for a trial of any untried indictment, information, or complaint within 180 days.[3] However, the prisoner needs to enter a request for final disposition to begin the clock.[4] The U.S. Marshals are given the power to issue writs of detainers in 28 U.S.C. 566(c), which is how the federal government interacts with the states to retrieve someone in state prison.

In Carchman v. Nash, the United States Supreme Court held that a probation revocation (or parole revocation) is not an "untried indictment, information or complaint" and therefore is not controlled by the Interstate Agreement on Detainer Act's 180 day provision.[5] It also made it clear that a case that where a sentence has already been imposed against the prisoner is not under the 180 day restriction.[6] Unfortunately, this often creates loopholes, where a proceeding still needs to go on in the case with the detainer, but the defendant has already pled guilty, and is not eligible to receive a final disposition in the case until his original period of incarceration is over. This creates a situation that is the opposite of what the Interstate Agreement was intended to do:

The Agreement is based on a legislative finding that "charges outstanding against a prisoner, detainers based on untried indictments, information or complaints, and difficulties in securing speedy trial of persons already incarcerated in other jurisdictions, produce uncertainties which obstruct programs of prisoner treatment and rehabilitation." Art. I. As has been explained: "The inmate who has a detainer against him is filled with anxiety and apprehension and frequently does not respond to a training program. He often must be kept in close custody, which bars him from treatment such as trusteeships, moderation of custody and opportunity for transfer to farms and work camps. In many jurisdictions he is not eligible for parole; there is little hope for his release after an optimum period of training and treatment, when he is ready for return to society with an excellent possibility that he will not offend again. Instead, he often becomes embittered with continued institutionalization and the objective of the correctional system is defeated." Council of State Governments, Suggested State Legislation, Program for 1957, p. 74 (1956).[7]

Most states have also enacted laws that create Interstate Commissions, which is usually an agency that creates its own policies and regulations regarding detainers transferring prisoners and probationers across state lines. While the Interstate Agreement on Detainers controls untried cases, Interstate Commission can control whether a person on probation or parole can come to their state to reside.[8]

Under the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 (IIRIRA), federal immigration enforcement agents can issue a detainer requesting a state or local jurisdiction to hold a suspected non-citizen for an additional 48 hours beyond their scheduled release. Although the detainer lapses after 48 hours, and there is no longer legal authority to detain the prisoner, this is frequently disregarded, and attorneys across the United States report that non-citizens are frequently held much longer.[9]

  1. ^ Carchman v. Nash 473 U.S. 716, 719 (1985)
  2. ^ 18 USC Appx
  3. ^ Carchman 473 U.S. at 720.
  4. ^ 18 USC Appx Article III
  5. ^ Carchman 473 U.S. at 726.
  6. ^ Id. at 727.
  7. ^ Carchman 473 U.S. at 719-720.
  8. ^ Wis. Stat. 304.16; Wis. Adm. Code DOC 328.09
  9. ^

 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed (1911). Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. 

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • detainer — de·tain·er /di tā nər/ n [Anglo French detenoure, from detenir to restrain, detain, from Old French, from Latin detinere] 1: the act of keeping something in one s possession; specif: unlawful detainer 2: detention in custody 3: a …   Law dictionary

  • Detainer — De*tain er ( [ e]r), n. 1. One who detains. [1913 Webster] 2. (Law) (a) The keeping possession of what belongs to another; detention of what is another s, even though the original taking may have been lawful. Forcible detainer is indictable at… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • detainer — one who detains, 1530s, agent noun from DETAIN (Cf. detain). As a legal term, a detaining in one s possession, from 1610s, from Anglo Fr. detener, from O.Fr. detenir (noun use of infinitive) …   Etymology dictionary

  • detainer — [dē tān′ər, ditān′ər] n. 1. a person or thing that detains 2. [Anglo Fr detener, inf. used as n. < OFr detenir: see DETAIN] Law a) the unlawful withholding of land or goods from the rightful owner b) the detention of a person without the… …   English World dictionary

  • detainer — The act (or the juridical fact) of withholding from a person lawfully entitled the possession of land or goods, or the restraint of a man s personal liberty against his will; detention. The wrongful keeping of a person s goods is called an… …   Black's law dictionary

  • detainer — The act of withholding land from the rightful owner; the restraint of a person without his consent. See forcible detainer; unlawful detainer …   Ballentine's law dictionary

  • detainer — detain ► VERB 1) keep from proceeding; delay. 2) keep in official custody. DERIVATIVES detainer noun detainment noun. ORIGIN Latin detinere keep back …   English terms dictionary

  • detainer — noun Etymology: Anglo French detenour, alteration of detenir Date: 1619 1. the act of keeping something in one s possession; specifically the withholding from the rightful owner of something that has lawfully come into the possession of the… …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • detainer — /di tay neuhr/, n. Law. 1. a writ for the further detention of a person already in custody. 2. the wrongful detaining or withholding of what belongs to another. [1610 20; < AF detener (n. use of inf.), var. of OF detenir; see DETAIN] * * * …   Universalium

  • detainer — noun The right to keep a person, or a persons goods or property, against his will. A type of custody …   Wiktionary

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