Prison Security Levels Guide

Prison Security Levels GuideWhen it comes to prison security levels, we are going to base this article off the Federal Bureau of Prisons prison security levels for the sake of keeping things uninformed.

Now, if you do not know, the Federal Bureau of Prisons oversees over 125 prisons, 68 prison camps and has 13 contracted private prisons. In the Federal Bureau of Prisons, they house over 188,000 inmates in their five security levels. The security levels are the following:

  • Minimum-Security
  • Low-Security
  • Medium-Security
  • High-Security
  • Administrative

In nearly every case, the security level of the prison or jail will align with what inmates they house when it comes to the security level. For this to work, the inmates will need to be studied and classified prior to being sent off to their home prison.

When inmates are being classified, the team will look at their convicted crime, history, sentence length, behavior while they were incarcerated, age, and a few other undisclosed factors. Basically, the lower the inmate’s score, the better off they will be. This means they will be in a lower security level prison or jail rather than being housed in a stricter security facility.

Minimum-Security Facilities

Minimum-Security institutions in the Federal Bureau of Prisons are also known as the Federal Prison Camps or FPC for short.

In these Federal Prison Camps, nearly 17-percent of all inmates that are in the custody of the Federal Bureau of Prisons are housed in one of these facilities.

These Federal Prison Camps are equipped with multi-person cells or open dormitory-style living situations along with their perimeters unsecured. Inmates within these facilities will typically not be watched as much as those in a higher security facility. Most of the time, inmates will be able to move freely throughout the grounds as they please.

Inmates who are in these Federal Prison Camps will have more lax rules when it comes to visits, telephone calls, email, and mail.

These Federal Prison Camps only house some of the most non-violent inmates. These inmates are typically on their last leg of their sentence.

Low-Security Facilities

Low-Security institutions in the Federal Bureau of Prisons are also known as the Federal Correctional Institutions or FCI for short.

In these Federal Correctional Institutions, nearly 38-percent of all inmates that are in the custody of the Federal Bureau of Prisons is housed in one of these facilities.

The Federal Correctional Institutions come equipped with open dormitory-style housing. The perimeter is enclosed with a double-fence alongside an electronic detection system.  Inmates inside these Federal Correctional Institutions have a little bit more restriction than minimum-security facilities. They are monitored more, and they have a higher inmate to correctional officer ratio than the minimum-security facilities.

The Federal Correctional Institutions also will monitor more when it comes to the inmate mail, email, visits, and telephone calls. It is not like when inmates are in the minimum-security facilities where it is more relaxed, and it feels like you are at home. These simple tasks are still monitored along with their movements within the prison.

However, just like the minimum-security facilities, the low-security facilities do not house violent offenders either. There typically won’t be an active gang presence within these facilities either. However, there may be some disciplinary misconduct here and there though. That is not uncommon in a facility like this.

For inmates who are in this low-security type of facility will typically have less than 20 years on their sentence to be put in a low-security facility.

Medium-Security Facilities

Medium-Security institutions in the Federal Bureau of Prisons are also known as the Federal Correctional Institutions or FCI for short.

In these Federal Correctional Institutions, nearly 29-percent of all inmates that are in the custody of the Federal Bureau of Prisons is housed in one of these facilities.

In the Federal Correctional Institutions, they are equipped multi-person jail cells. They also have a double fence surrounding the facilities perimeter alongside an electronic detection system. All movement between inmates in the facility is much more monitored than the previous two prison security levels.

In the Federal Correctional Institutions, they have much more correctional officers to inmates rather than the other previous two prison security levels. They also have much more monitoring technology that consists of outdoor and indoor video surveillance.

In these Federal Correctional Institutions, you will also see more violence than you will see in low-security and minimum-security facilities. However, the violence will strongly be dependent on what culture the facility has. Unfortunately, gang presence is great.

The Federal Correctional Institutions deals with many disciplinary misconducts their facilities daily. All inmates that are in a Federal Correctional Institution will have less than 30 years on their sentence to be in one of these medium-security facilities. However, if an inmate shows behavior that can fit within the medium-security facility, they can be granted access despite how many years left on their sentence they have.

High-Security Facilities

High-Security institutions in the Federal Bureau of Prisons are also known as the United States Penitentiaries or USP for short.

In these United States Penitentiaries, nearly 12-percent of all inmates that are in the custody of the Federal Bureau of Prisons is housed in one of these facilities.

These United State Penitentiaries come equipped with multi-person and single-person cells. Their facility perimeters are reinforced with walls and fences, the facility has a guard tower, shooting platforms with armed correctional officers. The inmates in the United States Penitentiaries are under 24 hours a day, 7 days a week-controlled environment. The United States Penitentiaries have the highest inmate to correctional officer ratio. They also have much other monitoring and video surveillance technology to date.

Gangs are very present within the walls of ALL United States Penitentiaries. You will find a ton of gang and racial violence. Murders in the United States Penitentiaries are not uncommon. These incidents usually consist of having a prison-made weapon, which is typically a shank.

Disciplinary misconduct is just another daily routine here at the United States Penitentiaries. All inmates who are ineligible to be put in the above prison security level facilities will be placed in one of these United States Penitentiaries.

However, USP Arizona and USP Tucson will only house inmates who are informants and sex offenders to keep them safe from the other violent offenders. They do this because these inmates pose a threat of having violence inflicted upon them for no rhyme or reason.

Administrative Security Facilities

You are probably wondering what could be worse than the high-security facilities, well that’s it. The high-security facilities are the worst.

The Administrative security facilities will house inmates in all the above security levels.

The administrative security facilities that the Federal Bureau of Prisons owns are the following:

  • Federal Medical Centers
  • Metropolitan Correctional Centers
  • Federal Detention Centers
  • Metropolitan Detention Centers
  • Federal Transfer Center
  • Administrative Maximum United States Penitentiary
  • Medical Center for Federal Prisoners

The Federal Detention Centers, Metropolitan Detention Centers, and the Metropolitan Correctional Centers are strictly for pre-trial inmates. While the Federal Medical Centers and the Medical Center for Federal Prisoners are for inmates who need medical care or have special medical needs that need to be monitored. At the same time, inmates that are housed in any of these facilities will either be housed in dormitories, multi-person cells, or single-person cells. Inmates will also can participate in the same programs as the other federal prisons, such as commissary, educational programs, recreation, and the like.

However, you will want to keep in mind that these administrative facilities that are situated in big metropolitan areas do not typically permit inmates to go outside of the facility walls except for when they need to make a court appearance. While inmates housed in Federal Medical Centers will have access to outdoor recreation time and facilities.