- the holding of someone in jail or in an institution because he or she is regarded as a danger to the community.
- English Law. imprisonment of habitual criminals for periods ranging from 5 to 14 years during which they are given corrective training or placed under psychiatric and medical care.
Origin of preventive detention
First recorded in 1905–10
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018