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The Difference Between State and Federal Prisons

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The Difference Between State and Federal Prisons

Prisons and penitentiaries are facilities that serve the purpose of confining convicts and taking from them varied forms of freedom. Purposely, they are meant to make a person penitent. As such, a convict reflects on their misdeeds and should hence reform (Foster, 2006).State prisons are centers in which more hardened and serious criminals/offenders serve sentences. For instance, the system may be used to lock up felony committers and sentences oft run to more than a year. Such centers are under the jurisdictions of state governments as opposed to the federal prisons that are used to confine inmates who violate the federal laws and immigrants. Federal governments and Prisons Bureau operate the federal prisons (Foster, 2006).In the recent past, increased crime levels have witnessed a growth in the populations of incarcerated individuals. The fluctuating rates of crime have beaten the logic of overly strict policies that were created to govern sentencing in the past four decades. Moreover, state policies that have been adopted by different states have also played a factor in the same (Foster, 2006). Policies such as mandatory sentencing, elongated sentences for multiple crimes and even the increased criminalization of activities connected to drugs have played the pole positions.To note is the fact the state prisons have been overpopulated, but not so much by the violent offenders as by the nonviolent. An instance for which even debtors still get imprisoned even though such prisons had long ceased to operate. The states should hence review some of the laws and policies to curb the vice of overpopulation. The correction professionals should also adopt rehabilitation measures. Rehabilitation is even cheaper and more efficient as criminals do not leave the centers hardened (Foster, 2006).

Security Levels in Prisons

There have instances in which convicts break out of penitentiary centers. States and the central government have come up with measures meant to ensure the safety of the general public and also keep the inmates to serve their full sentences.Depending on the level of crime/offense committed and sentence that a convict may be serving, state prisons are grouped into two. The first are major institutions for the average to maximum security. Inmates committed to centers like such are extreme violators of the law. Correctional units are used for lesser security levels though inmates must exhibit behavior that is non-disruptive (Foster, 2006).Several features including security patrols, barriers, towers and the housing system influence the security level in a prison. The federal camps that lean more towards labor and work have a housing system that assumes a dormitory model and a low ratio of staff to inmates. There is also limited or totally absent perimeter fencing. Operations at the state prisons, on the other hand, have the projections of several cell blocks usually centrally operated or with secure dormitories that house close to fifty inmates. A barrier designed with a double fence is used to safeguard the perimeters and patrols coupled with watch towers are used to monitor the prison compounds. On that basis, the state prisons are further divided into a maximum, close, and medium security (Foster, 2006).The varied strict measures that mark the level of punishment that a convict is undergoing projects the difference between state and federal prisons. In state prisons, the movement of inmates is closely monitored and restricted. The freedom of the inmates is also limited and many a times, they are only allowed one hour of movement in a day. The measures slightly contrast the federal systems’ that freedom is not so limited and security not so tight (Foster, 2006).

Improvements That Should be Made by the U.S Government on Security Level

The security levels in the state prisons have on many occasions led to the creation of hardened criminals. Reducing the effect would involve the use of more detailed sentencing method and further division of the centers. First-time offenders, however serious, should be committed to separate confinement where they are not exposed to the influenced of the hardened criminals. More rehabilitation measures should also be taken to curtail the violence levels in the centers.However, stronger security measures should be implemented in the federal system. The perimeters should be tightly secured with watchtowers, patrols and barriers to reduce the temptation of conducting a breakout.


Foster, B. (2006). Corrections: The fundamentals. Upper Saddle River, N.J: Pearson Prentice Hall.

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