A Guide To Understanding The Different Types Of Correctional Facilities

-+The criminal justice system in the United States is the responsibility of all the citizens in that country. Law enforcement, juvenile justice, and adult criminal justice systems are all components of the total system. Each has its specific functions and goals to keep society safe and defend citizens’ rights. One part of this comprehensive system is correctional facilities, which house individuals who have been convicted of a crime. It’s essential to understand what a correctional facility does and how it helps both people within its walls and society outside its borders when you want to understand what kind of facility it is. 

To understand the different types of correctional facilities, it’s essential that you first understand what a correctional facility is. A correctional facility is a place where individuals who have been convicted of a crime serve their sentence as punishment for the crimes they committed. The primary purpose of any correctional facility is to correct and reform offenders so that they do not commit any more crimes and become law-abiding citizens when they return to society. This task has historically been difficult. Unfortunately, many believe it has only gotten harder recently, with drug use on the rise and prison overcrowding becoming an increasing problem across America.

There are several different types of facilities, each with unique characteristics designed to treat criminals in different ways. Although each facility is designed with its specific purpose, they hope to correct their behaviors and be accountable for their actions.

The Different Types Of Correctional Facilities

Federal Prisons

The Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) operates a federal prison or jail, its name. It’s where individuals who have been convicted of violating federal law are sent to serve their sentences. If the crime were committed on federal property such as a post office, military base, or Indian reservation, the guilty party would be sent to the nearest federal prison to serve out their sentence. Since these individuals are convicted of violating federal law, they may have violated laws in multiple jurisdictions. It is up to the BOP to house them somewhere, so each prisoner’s location is determined by how many facilities are available in the area where they were arrested. State facilities handle most crimes within their borders, while the Federal Bureau of Prisons handles the rest.

State Prisons

The state’s department of corrections operates state prisons or correctional institutions. Every state has its laws regarding what crimes are against the law and what penalties offenders face if found guilty of committing them. For an individual to be sentenced to a term in a state correctional facility, it must be proven that they committed or participated in these crimes within that particular state’s jurisdiction. For a more favorable sentence, one needs a criminal defense lawyer to defend him in the court of law. The Department of Corrections also helps rehabilitate individuals within the prison system to return to society as productive members after being released from prison.

County Jails

A local sheriff’s department operates a county jail or correctional facility. It houses individuals who have been arrested for violating a criminal law under the jurisdiction of that particular county. The Department of Corrections will determine if offenders sentenced to a term in either state or federal facilities should serve time in a local jail. In some cases, individuals can be released from prison early if they’ve earned “good time.” To do this, however, corrections officials must be sure that the offender can make it on his own outside of prison without committing crimes again. Otherwise, he may serve all his sentences behind bars rather than just part of it. In addition, individuals serving terms in county jails don’t have access to the programs, training, and education that those in the state or federal facilities do.

Juvenile Reform Schools

A juvenile reform school is a correctional facility specifically for young offenders who have been convicted of breaking the law. In some states, these are called youth detention centers. The primary purpose of these types of facilities is to help young people from criminal behavior. They remain in this type of facility until they reach adulthood. At this time, they can either be transferred to an adult correctional facility or released if their sentence was served and parole terms were complied with successfully. In addition, individuals who have broken both state and federal laws may serve time in a private juvenile reform school if their crime violates a law that’s covered by the U.S. Constitution as well as a state code.

Juvenile Detention Centers

A juvenile detention center is operated by a local law enforcement agency and houses juveniles awaiting trial or sentenced for committing crimes. The correctional facility is specifically for minors, generally 16 years of age and under. They hold young people who have broken the law until they can be transferred to either an adult correctional facility or a juvenile reform school that can provide the services they need. The main difference between these facilities and youth reform schools/centers is that the individuals housed here are not locked up to prevent them from committing further crimes. Instead, they’re held until their court date arrives.

Military Correctional Facilities

It should come as no surprise that military correctional facilities also exist, even though they operate under different rules, regulations, and guidelines than those in civilian prisons. Since our country’s armed forces use out of primary training stations, most military correctional facilities can be found on U.S. Army installations around the world. Offenders housed in these institutions may be soldiers who have been convicted of crimes or civilian dependents living on base.


Corrections officers and correctional workers in all types of federal, state, and local facilities have a tough job to do. They must ensure the safety of everyone within the walls of these institutions while also doing their best to help inmates rehabilitate so when they are released from prison, they won’t return, at least not again, because of breaking the law. In most cases, those who go through a correctional facility will return to society with a sense that what they did was wrong and a desire to be a law-abiding citizen to avoid going back behind bars ever again.

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