10 Difference Between Federal Prison And State Prison

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Many citizens and Immigrants in the United States would often want to know the difference between Federal and State Prisons, though some of these individuals might have friends who have been to state prisons and Federal prisons, and who have narrated to them everything of how it is like to be in both prisons but it still remains confusing to differentiate between the two systems of incarceration. Therefore, let’s look at the key features that differentiate the two.

Key Differences

What they do

Federal prison is where people who have committed federal crimes or have been accused of violating federal laws are incarcerated.  Federal crimes include crimes committed across state boarders and against government officials, institutions and agents.  Also, federal prisons incarcerate people charged with white collar crimes such as money laundering, racketeering and fraud.

State Prison is where people who have violated or have been accused of violating state laws are incarcerated. These violations are committed in a single state and are usually handled by the state police. Examples of crimes that can land a person in state prisons include murder, rape and gun-related offenses.

Management

Federal prison systems are managed by the Federal Bureau of Prisons which is a federal law enforcement agency under department of justice. On the other hand, State prisons are managed by state authorities.

Quality of Management

Federal Prisons are funded by the federal government and hence they get bigger budgets. Consequently these prisons have better services, facilities, food and training programs. Conversely, state prisons are typically funded by tax money generated by the state and therefore, poor management of state prison system is common.  Thus why, they have inadequate rehabilitation programs for inmates.

Numbers

Federal prisons are few in number than state prisons. There are currently 122 federal prisons whereas the number of state prisons is 1719.

Movement of Prisoners

Persons incarcerated in federal prisons can be sent to any other federal prison in the country, whereas, persons incarcerated in state prisons serve their entire sentence in the state where they are convicted.

Length of Sentence

Federal prison sentences tend to be longer than state prison sentences. Many federal charges have mandatory minimum sentence lengths for convicted persons, sometimes, though not always longer than state-mandated penalties for similar type of crime.

Security

Federal prisons have relatively high security levels than state prisons. Though majority of both federal and state prisons are isolated from the surrounding cities and are enclosed by high walls, electrified fences, barbed wire and heavily armed guards.

Perceptions

 Federal prisons are considered safer unlike state prisons that are considered less safe.

Number of Inmates

State prisons have a high number of inmates when compared to federal prisons.

Differences Between Federal Prison And State Prison

Basis of Comparison Federal Prison  State Prison
What they do Federal prison is where people who have committed federal crimes or have been accused of violating federal laws are incarcerated.  State Prison is where people who have violated or have been accused of violating state laws are incarcerated.
Management Managed by the Federal Bureau of Prisons which is a federal law enforcement agency under department of justice. Managed by State Authorities.
Quality of Management Federal Prisons are funded by the federal government and hence they get bigger budgets. Consequently these prisons have better services, facilities, food and training programs. State prisons are typically funded by tax money generated by the state and therefore, poor management of state prison system is common.  Thus why, they have inadequate rehabilitation programs for inmates.
Number of Prisons Fewer in number (122 in number). Many in number (1719 in number).
Movement of Prisoners Persons incarcerated in federal prisons can be sent to any other federal prison in the country. Persons incarcerated in state prisons serve their entire sentence in the state where they are convicted.
Length of Sentence Federal prison sentences tend to be longer. Sentence can be longer or shorter.
Security Relatively High Security. Relatively high security but not as federal prisons.
Perception Perceived to be safer. Perceived to be less safe.
Numbers of Inmates Has few numbers of inmates when compared to State prisons. Have many inmates when compared to federal prison.
Color of Uniform All federal prisons have the same color of inmate’s uniforms. State prisons have different color of inmate’s uniform. Each state prison has its own inmate uniform colors. 

Similarities Between Federal Prison And State Prison

  • In both levels, when an inmate dies, the prison chaplain informs the next of kin for possible burial arrangement.
  • At both State and the federal prison the level of security is almost the same.
  • Both are funded by tax money.
  • There are separate facilities for men and women at both levels.
  • Both provide services such as counseling and drug addiction treatment for inmates who need them.
  • The main function of both levels is rehabilitation.
  • Both federal and state prisons have different custody levels for convicted persons of different levels of crime. For example in New York, more dangerous and violent inmates are placed in maximum security cells whereas non-violent inmates are subjected to rehabilitation in minimum security cells.
  • Both are built nearly the same. They have high walls, electrified fences and armed guards.

Summary

Federal prison is where people who have committed federal crimes or have been accused of violating federal laws are incarcerated whereas, State Prison is where people who have violated or have been accused of violating state laws are incarcerated.