🏢 Federal Prison vs. State Prison: What is the Difference Between Federal Prison and State Prison?

Let’s discover the major difference between Federal Prison and State Prison, their Similarities, Pros & Cons, and answer some FAQs you need to know
🏢 Federal Prison vs State Prison: 7 Key Differences To Know

Both federal and state prisons punish and correct the behavior of criminals. The biggest federal prison vs. state prison difference lies in the type of crime committed. Federal prisons are for individuals who break federal laws while state prisons are for those who break state laws.

Let’s take a closer look at state prison vs. federal prison:

SecurityFederal prisons have higher security than state prisons
Violent criminalsState prisons house more violent criminals than federal prisons
QuantityThere are lesser federal prisons than state prisons
SafetyFederal prisons are safer than the state prisons

What is a Federal Prison?

A federal prison is operated by the federal government. It is meant for individuals breaking federal laws. Prisoners are generally less violent in federal prisons. Inmates in federal prison have no freedom to meet anyone or go out on parole. Visits are allowed only on special valid requests and that too, rarely.

What is a State Prison?

A state prison is operated by the state government. It is meant for individuals breaking the state laws. Prisoners are generally more violent in state prisons. Inmates in state prison have the freedom to meet their family members, go out on parole, or enjoy a conjugal visit.

Federal vs. State Prison Pros and Cons

Federal Prison Pros and Cons

Pros of Federal Prison

  • These are safer.
  • Prisoners are less violent and dangerous.
  • These have higher security levels.

Cons of Federal Prison

  • The length of imprisonment is longer.
  • Prisoners can be shifted to another federal prison anytime.

State Prison Pros and Cons

Pros of State Prison

  • The length of imprisonment can be short.
  • Prisoners are not generally shifted to other state prisons.

Cons of State Prison

  • These have lower security.
  • Prisoners are more violent and dangerous.
  • These have lower security levels.

Federal Prison and State Prison Similarities Explained

  • Both federal and state prisons are funded by taxpayers’ money.
  • Both prisons have an identical level of security. For example, dangerous criminals are kept in high-level security cells. 
  • The architecture of both the prisons is almost identical with high walls, armed guards, and electrified fences. 
  • Both prisons have separate arrangements for men and women convicts.
  • The main function of both prisons is to help the convicts in rehabilitation. Thus, both offer to counsel the inmates. 

7 Key Points of Difference Between Federal and State Prisons That You Must Consider 

Some major federal prison vs. state prison differences are listed here:

Basis Federal PrisonState Prison
Nature of offensePrisoners are held for less serious offenses.Prisoners are held for more serious offenses.
UniformAll the inmates in a federal prison wear the same uniform.The inmates in state prisons wear different colored uniforms. 
NumberThere are fewer inmates in federal prison. There are a large number of inmates in state prisons. 
TransferabilityThe inmates of a federal prison can be transferred to any other federal prison across the country. The inmates of a state prison can not be transferred to any other states’ prison. Though movement within the state is permissible on certain grounds. 
Number of inmatesAn inmate has to share the cell with a lesser number of convicts. An inmate has to share the cell with a large number of convicts. 
Types of offendersThe inmates are less violent and dangerous.The inmates are more violent and dangerous.
Prison dutiesNo duties are assigned to the inmates in federal prison.Inmates in state prison are assigned specific duties like community work. 

Comparison Chart

Let’s discover the major difference between Federal Prison and State Prison, their Similarities, Pros & Cons, and answer some FAQs you need to know.

Comparison Video

State Prison vs Federal Prison – What’s The Actual Difference?

Federal Prison and State Prison FAQ

What Kind Of Criminals Go To Federal Prison?

Criminals who have committed nonviolent crimes go to federal prison. The majority of the crimes are under the category of ‘drug offenses’. The next ranked offense categories are for violating gun laws, committing sex offenses, with offenses concerning ‘national security being at the bottom of the list. (Ref. 1)

What is the Main Difference Between the Inmates in Federal and State Prisons Quizlet?

Inmates in federal prisons are generally white-collar criminals. However, inmates in state prisons are generally convicted of violent crimes. 

Why Would You Go to a Federal Prison?

Federal prison is for those who offend the federal laws. Such crimes are mostly considered white-collar crimes and most of the inmates are non-violent. The most famous offenses are carjacking, aircraft hijacking, bank robbery, credit card fraud, lynching, kidnapping, identity theft, money laundering, child pornography, and all federal hate crimes.

Is Federal Prison Safer than State Prison?

Yes. Since the inmates of the federal prison are mostly convicted for non-violent crimes, these prisons are much safer than state prisons that tend to be full of inmates sentenced for heinous crimes like murder or rape. 

Do States have More Lenient Sentencing Guidelines than the Federal Government?

Yes, states have more lenient sentencing guidelines where every state has an authority to decide certain factors like parole, conjugal visits, et al. (Ref. 2)

Who is Responsible for the Operation of State Prisons?

State authorities are responsible for the operation of state prisons. 

Do Federal Prisons allow Conjugal Visits?

No Bureau of Prisons (BOP) facility allows any conjugal visit. (Ref. 3)

Is there a Parole in Federal Prison? 

Federal prisons have abolished the paroles for all the federal offenders sentenced after November 1, 1987. (Ref. 4)

What Percentage of Federal Inmates is Female? 

The percentage of female federal inmates out of the total stands around 6.8%. (Ref. 5)

What Percentage of Federal Inmates is Male?

The percentage of male federal inmates is around 93.2%. (Ref. 5)

The Final Words

Federal prison is for those who offend the federal laws whereas state prison houses the individuals breaking the state laws. Federal prison vs. state prison management also differs. Federal prison is managed by the federal government while state prison is managed by the state government. The majority of prisoners in federal prison are held for less serious offenses like money laundering, drug smuggling, et al. However, the majority of prisoners in state prison are held for more serious offenses like rape, murder, et al. Also, federal prisons are lesser in number than state prisons.

References:

  1. https://www.bop.gov/about/statistics/statistics_inmate_offenses.jsp
  2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Criminal_sentencing_in_the_United_States
  3. https://www.bop.gov/inmates/custody_and_care/legal_matters.jsp
  4. https://www.bop.gov/inmates/custody_and_care/legal_matters.jsp
  5. https://www.bop.gov/about/statistics/statistics_inmate_gender.jsp
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