Instant Inmate Search

Start your FREE search
The following is for informational purposes only

State Prisons

State Prisons

Among the US Justice system, there are a number of different incarceration institution types. These have certain similarities and differences, including structure, state vs. federal crimes, sizes and regulations. State prisons are one type of such institution.

What are State Prisons?

State prisons can be found in every US state. State prisons are governed by each state’s corrections department, and are not private institutions or county jails. State prisons are also in a different category than federal prisons. State prisons are long-term incarceration facilities that are used after sentencing. Generally speaking, felons and inmates are housed in state prisons for more than a year, and in some cases, for decades.

State prisons are established to house convicted felons that have broken state laws. These institutions provide both punishment and reform. State prisons have differing security classifications, including High, Medium, Low, or Minimum. These classifications correspond to the seriousness of a crime that was committed, the convict’s demonstration of intent, and the likelihood that they may harm others (such as other prisoners and guards) during incarceration.

Some states, usually those that are smaller and / or have lower population, have just a few state prisons, while other states, such as Texas, Florida, or New York, have over thirty-five state prisons.

State Prison Structures

State Prison Structures

Corrections departments vary state by state. States have certain cultural differences from one another that may be influenced by their geographic locations, their specific law enforcement challenges, and by whether it is governed by a Republican or Democratic administration. For this reason, it is hard to define a standard state prison structure across the US. State laws that dictate the types of services and the minimal thresholds that must be available to prisoners also vary. These might include:

  • Levels of access to medical, dental, and mental health services, including substance abuse treatment
  • Educational programs
  • Physical space set up
  • Rehabilitative programs
  • Access to jobs and other activities
  • Facilities, such as libraries or gyms
  • Rules and regulations, including visitation policies

Inmates at State Prisons

State prisons house those that are convicted of state crimes. The range can be from fairly mild offenders, to violent, or even repeat offenders. This range is why there are different state prison classifications:

  • High / Max Security State Prisons / Supermax – these state prison types are reserved for criminals that are known to be violent, and have a history of perpetrating further violence while incarcerated. Convicts in these institutions may be guilty of murder, kidnapping, treason, or other serious and violent crimes. Repeat offenders are much more likely to be in high security prisons. Supermax prisons are becoming less mainstream in the US, but some still exist. Supermax and maximum-security prisons rely on solitary confinement to prevent violence, and visitation is not allowed or is very limited. High security institutions offer low amounts of flexibility or recreation to prisoners. It is common for higher security state prisons to have high walls or strong chain fences surrounding the property. These barriers may have electronic detection devices and powerful spotlights.
  • Medium Security State Prisons – these types of state prisons hold inmates who have been convicted of less serious crimes, such as minor assaults and smaller thefts. The inmates in medium security prisons are considered less dangerous than those in maximum security prisons. Medium security prisons are often surrounded by fences with guard towers. Many medium security prisons have educationalfacilities that are similar to schools. These prisons also often have athletic facilities, such as an indoor gym, or a basketball court or outdoor track.
  • Low / Minimum Security State Prisons – these state prison types host prisoners that are not considered dangerous and are unlikely to try to flee. Many of the inmates in these institutions were convicted of nonviolent crimes, such as business theft, fraud, obstruction of justice,or perjury. They live in comfortable rooms and usually have some freedom in how they navigate the prison and choosing their recreational activities. Minimum security prisons range from large institutions to small camp-type facilities.
  • Juvenile State Corrections Centers – If an offender is under 18and has been charged with a state crime,they go to state juvenile corrections centers. Usually, these institutions offer counselling, education, job training, and recreation. Most importantly, youth offenders are kept separated from adult convicts.

State prison systems can be large or small, and have different structures and programs. This largely depends on how the state’s department of corrections functions, and whether the state is under a Democrat or Republican governor. Federal prisons function completely separate from state prisons.

Instant Inmate Search