The Differences Between Correctional Facilities & Detention Centers

By Rebeca Renata - Updated June 16, 2017
Jail fence with barbed wire

According to the Washington Post, in 2008 more than 1 in 100 adults in the U.S. were in jail or prison. This number includes all types of federal, state and local corrections facilities. These facilities vary widely in terms of size, location, type of offense committed, purpose of the facility, length of stay and level of security, as well as the rehabilitation services offered.

Detention Centers

Detention centers are thought of as short-term places to hold people. Jails are the most common form of detention centers. Jails are usually run by a county and hold people who are awaiting sentencing, or have been sentenced to a year or less.

Probation Centers

Probation centers are detention centers that are also used for short-term confinement of probationers. These facilities are used for people who are unable to fulfill their probation commitments in the community. Although these are usually minimum security, higher securities centers exist as well and can include exclusively male and female facilities as well as those that are more highly structured. Many also offer rehabilitation programs such as employment or substance abuse programs.

Correctional Facilities

Correctional facilities are also known as prisons. A prison is a long-term facility, meant to hold people convicted of a crime and sentenced for more than a year. State governments and the federal bureau of prisons operate prisons.

State Prison Systems

State prison systems may have specialized services such as work release programs or boot camps. Often they are linked to other state run programs such as halfway houses and work-release centers.

Level of Security Makes Big Difference

Minimum security or federal prison camps offer dormitory housing, low staff-to-inmate ratio and less perimeter fencing. Low security prisons have dormitory housing, a higher staff-to-inmate ratio and high perimeter security. Medium security prison have an even higher amount of staff, strengthened perimeters and cell-type housing. High security prisons, also known as federal penitentiaries, have highly secured perimeters, multiple occupant cell housing and the highest staff-to-inmate ratio as well as high control of inmate movement.

About the Author

Rebeca Renata has been writing since 2005 and has been published on various websites. She specializes in writing about clinical social work and social services. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from the University of Connecticut as well as a Master of Social Work from the Smith College School for Social Work.

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