State vs. Federal Prison: Similarities and Differences

Are you curious how federal prisons in South Carolina and across the United States are different from or similar to state prisons? Here are some of the key differences and similarities:

The differences

  • What they do. Federal prisons are where people who have committed federal crimes or been accused of violating federal laws are incarcerated, while state prisons are where people who have violated state laws are incarcerated.
  • Management. State prisons are managed by state authorities, while federal prisons are managed by the Federal Bureau of Prisons, which is a federal law enforcement agency under the Department of Justice.
  • Quality of management. Federal prisons are funded by the federal government and tend to have better services , food, facilities and training programs than state prisons, which are usually funded by tax money generated by the state.
  • Number of prisons. There are far fewer federal prisons than state prisons.
  • Movement of prisoners. People held in federal prisons can be sent to any other federal prison in the country, while people held in state prisons serve their whole sentence in the state where they are convicted.
  • Length of sentence. Federal prison sentences tend to be longer than state prison sentences for similar crimes.
  • Security. Federal prisons tend to have relatively high security, while state prisons are seen as less safe.
  • Numbers of inmates. Federal prisons tend to have a smaller number of inmates, compared to state prisons.
  • Color of uniform. All federal prisons have the same color of inmate’s uniforms, while each state prison has its own inmate uniform colors.
    • The similarities
  • The level of security is almost the same at both state and federal prisons.
  • Both state and federal prisons are funded by tax money.
  • There are separate prisons for men and women at both state and federal prisons.
  • Both state and federal prisons offer services like counseling and drug addiction treatment for prisoners who need them.