The state prisons today were founded on the basis of the 1700s to 1800’s during the Age of Enlightenment. The English correctional facility referred to as a “gaol,” commonly known as a jail. They housed men, women, children, the mentally ill along with the civil and criminals. The individuals suffered from idleness, diseases, despair and malnutrition. The gaols were maintained by local authorities, classification did not exist, and the purpose of gaol was to detain or hold people for court.

The Department of Corrections houses all adult felons through out the state. The adult felons include those on probation as well as on parole, including juveniles who are on a work release program, halfway houses, group homes, training schools, or from a special facility.

Federal Prison History

Prisons today are maximum security prisons. Federal prisons confining individuals convicted of a federal offense such as drug smuggling across state lines or non-payment of taxes. These prisons are operated by the Department of Justice and with in the system are layers of correctional institutions for gender segregation and sentencing classification. For example penitentiaries are for male inmates with long-term sentences; low security correctional institutions are for males and female inmates with intermediate or short-term sentences, but there are never housed together.

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Male prisoners who need only minimum security are set up in camps and those who will be transitioned back into society and served their sentence will be set-up in a halfway house. The individuals awaiting trial are in a correctional center, also known as administrative security that includes illegal aliens awaiting deportation and medical cases. Individuals housed in the administrative maximum unit are the highest security threat to society who also transferred in from the Marion prison.

The penitentiary purpose was secular and spiritual; punishment was no longer physical, but humane. Living conditions were cleaner, healthier and body contamination was avoided by separating inmates from each other as much as possible preferably in isolation and to create habits by enforcing strict rules. Prisoners work at productive labor, no sitting around as they did in old jails and prisons. The secular institution was a place where the inmate expressed regret, a religious meeting needed for expressing contrition for sin, including and a place of penitence or penance; expressing remorse and regret of their wrongdoing. This allowed the criminal to say, “I am sorry and promise not to do that again” (Foster, 2006, “p.” 22).

State Prison Security

The state prison has five levels of security; open security, minimum, medium, close high and maximum. Open security is a work release center, halfway house or community based facility; no guards, but walkway, and enjoy maximum security upon returning.

Minimum security is setup for the short-termers. The inmates are approaching release and have worked themselves down have a higher classification. The prison is smaller with minimal perimeter security and less internal control with highest ratio of inmates to guards. The wire fencing is “cosmetic.” This is in place so that the public is assured safety, but the inmates still can escape.

Medium security is either dormitory or pod housing with double fences instead of walls. The inmate to guard ratio is twice compared to the maximum security prison because inmates are not perceived as dangerous and 35% of the inmates are in this classification.

Close-high security prisons are similar to maximum security but less restrictive. The ratio of inmates to guards may be higher as compared to maximum security prisons which holds about 12% of the state inmates with two men per cell and has the most rigorous security procedures and the lowest ratio of inmates to guards. The prisons are older, larger and security procedures are the most rigorous. The supermax prison is the next level, but it is gone, and known as the Communication Management Unit. This restricts the visitations rights, monitoring all telephone calls and mail. Inmates are Arab Muslins, thus communications have been greatly enhanced [Passive voice] to translate content and share intelligence, which is authorized by the Patriot Act. (Foster, 2003).

Federal Prison Security

The federal prison also has five levels of security in this order; minimum, low, medium, high and administrative. Federal prisons are operated [Passive voice] by the Department of Justice and within the system are layers of correctional institutions for gender segregation and sentencing classification.

The minimum security is federal prison camps adjacent to other federal prisons near military bases. Male prisoners who need only minimum security are set up in camps and those who will be transitioned [Passive voice] back into society and served their sentence will be set-up in a halfway house.

Low security or correctional institutions are for males and female inmates with intermediate or short-term sentences they are never housed together. This correctional institution has double fencing resembling dormitory housing.

Medium security have stronger perimeters, cell blocks and the guards have a greater internal control over inmates. The high security penitentiaries look just like every other penitentiary.

Administrative security also called the Metropolitan Correctional Center or Metropolitan Detention Center detains illegal aliens awaiting deportation and medical cases also federal prisoners awaiting transportation to the Administrative Maximum units known as ADMAX. This is where they house the highest security threat inmates who need more control and were previously housed at the Marion prison. This prison also operates the Federal Transfer Center in Oklahoma City, who is responsible for moving federal prisoners around the country.


The federal prison houses more illegal aliens awaiting deportation some of them Marielito Cubans held in custody for more than two decades, because they refused to be deported causing a riot. The War on Drugs, has brought an influx of gangs, drug users and street levels drug dealers to the federal prisons and along with that comes the medical, and violence issues associated with the gang affiliations. Individuals in federal prison are drug smugglers, gun runners, bombers, arsonists, or individuals who are in possession of drugs, explosives, weapons or white collar crime involving cybercrime and felony assaults. (Foster, 2003, “p.” 143).

The state prison houses violent criminals those convicted of capital punishment crimes, robbery, sex crimes, kidnapping and felony assaults which make up half of the state prison population.

Growth in State Prisons

The reasons state prison population will continue to rise is based on several factors, increased prison population, economic conditions, criminal justice policies, and crime rates. When policies are changed to extend the average period of incarceration on a current prisoner or the incoming prisoner this causes an influx of prisoners. New punishments are put in place to fit the crime and another influx of prisoners. Crime rates will rise when the economy is in a recession, individuals of all racial backgrounds will commit robbery to pay their bills.

The state and federal are different. The federal government provides better facilities, better programs, less prisoner idle time and inmate work programs, but with the influx of gangs, street level drug users and addicts it won’t be long before the distinction becomes blurred. The faces of the correctional officers will look of pain, weary and no longer wanting to be there but somewhere else, the pay will be less because the hours will seem longer and the increase of violence who would wants the job.


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