What is the Difference Between Minimum, Medium and Maximum Security Prisons

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There are a few kinds of prisons and correctional facilities in the United States. Each of them has their own rules and ways of operating. One of the types of prisons is federal prisons. What are federal prisons?

The federal prisons are the kinds of prisons where inmates have been charged with federal crimes. For those who have no idea about the federal crimes, these include drug trafficking, identify theft, tax fraud and child pornography.

According to the Federal Bureau of Prisons or BOP in short, there are a total of 122 federal prisons throughout the United States. They are housing more than 151,000 inmates. There are a number of factors that are considered when determining the kind of prison an offender will be put into. These factors include their offense and past criminal record, mental and physical health, and proximity to family.

Talking about federal prisons, they can be one of five levels of security, including minimum security, low security, medium security, high security, and administrative. Each of them is designed to best meet the needs of its inmates. This post will focus more on three of them, which are minimum, medium, and maximum security prisons. What are the minimum, medium, and maximum security prisons? What are the things that make these three different?

Minimum Security Prisons

Minimum security prisons feature dormitory style housing and are program oriented such as community service. Crimes that you land in minimum security prison include white collar crimes who have committed acts such as embezzlement or fraud. Even though these crimes are considered as serious crimes, they are known as non-violent in nature. Therefore, these inmates with such cases are not considered to be a risk for violence.

Not only people who have committed such crimes, low level drug offenses are also usually placed in the minimum security prisons. For the drug offenders with a higher income, you are more likely to be offered alternatives to prison. The options that are usually offered include probation and rehab. As for the serious offender with good behavior, they may go to the minimum security prison at the end of the sentence.

Everyone who commits white collar crime or low level drug offense will be sent to facilities that offer a living environment that looks like a dormitory, as explained above. In these prisons, there are usually fewer guards compared to the medium security prisons and maximum security prisons. On top of that, all the inmates who live there usually have more personal freedoms.

Medium Security Prisons

Medium security prisons are at a higher level compared to the minimum security prisons. These prisons have quite a bit of security measures in place. While all the inmates are placed in their own cells, the rules that are applied to them are lighter. Even though they are in the cells, they still have more chances to leave their own cells. In these kinds of prisons, the inmates are allowed to attend treatment programs.

At night, these inmates will be locked in their cells. In order to make sure they are in their proper cell, there will be a bed check and an inmate count. While the outside of the prison is not as secure as the maximum security prisons, the chance for these inmates to be able to escape is low. Instead of triple fences, the medium security prisons usually have double fences.

Who are the inmates that are usually located in medium security prisons? The ones that are usually put in the medium security prisons are the violent offenders.

Maximum Security Prisons

Maximum security prisons, which are also known as high security in the Federal prison system, are the places for some of the worst criminals in the world. These people have a violent criminal history or have committed violent crimes while incarcerated. These prisoners are dangerous and can be threats to the other prisoners, hence they are the ones that need most security. Not only their fellow prisoners, they can also harm the prison guards, and society as a whole. For these prisoners, freedom is something rare.

The maximum security prisons have heavy doors that are used to keep the prisoners locked in the cells. These doors for these kinds of prisoners are operated by a prison guard at a control center. There is a window that these prisoners can use to see out of. Aside from that, there is also a slot for the food tray to go in and out of. Usually, the prisoners in the maximum security prisons spend 23 hours a day in their cells and they are not even allowed to make a line to take their food by themselves. That’s why there is a slot for food so that they can get their food delivered for them.

When they are allowed to go out, they will be transported with physical restraints and they will be escorted by a few officers. The activities that they can do during their hour out of the cell include taking shower and exercising.

For those who are wondering about how the outside of the prison looks like, it is about as severe as you are probably imagining. These prisons usually have a high cement or brick wall. There is usually an electric chain. These places are known to be scary as they also have barbed wire fences around the facility. In addition, there are some security towers that have armed prison guards. Just like the inside of the prison, the outside of the prison also usually has similar things in place.

Bottom Line

It should be easy to spot the differences between minimum, medium, and maximum security prisons by just hearing their names. Minimum security prisons have lighter security and maximum security prisons have heavier security while medium security prisons are in between. The more dangerous the prisoners the inmates, the heavier the security needed. Do you get the differences between these three now? Can you tell these differences to the others?

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