Protective Custody Law and Legal Definition

Protective custody is the confinement of an individual by the state to prevent them from harm from themselves or others. A correctional facility inmate may be transferred to a protective custody unit after a finding that the inmate cannot be safely placed in the general population of any state correctional facility. Protective custody units have numerous guards, clear sightlines from guard stations into the cells, and video cameras to help keep inmates in check.

Sometimes a witness in a criminal case is placed in protective custody. Due to the importance of their testimony in incriminating another, they may need special protection to avoid harm from those who seek to prevent them from giving testimony or other incriminating evidence.