While state and federal corrections both focus on enforcing the law, they have specific functions. State and federal corrections enforce separate laws and have their own law enforcement agencies and facilities. Location and type of crime are the determining factors in whether issues are handled by state or federal corrections.
Federal crimes consist of crimes committed across state lines. For example, murders committed by one person in multiple states and mail fraud are both federal crimes. Crimes committed against government agencies, institutions or agents are also federal level corrections. Any crime committed in a place under federal jurisdiction is also a federal case. Federal cases are handled by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the United States Marshals Service.
Federal Bureau of Prisons
The Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) maintains federal prisons throughout the United States. It also oversees contracts with state corrections to house federal juvenile offenders and some low-risk offenders. The BOP works with halfway houses for offenders being released from prison and monitors home detentions. The BOP also handles housing of prisoners before and during trials. The BOP maintains 178 facilities including prisons of varying security levels, correctional compounds and administrative centers.
State corrections deal with crimes committed at the state level. Unlike federal corrections these crimes are only committed in one state and have no connection to the federal government or its agents. The role of the state police varies for each state. State police usually handle serious crimes such as murder but their roles and jurisdiction vary by location. County and city police handle minor crimes and the housing of criminals before trial.
When offenders are convicted of serious crimes that require longer sentencing, they are sent to state prisons. Unlike federal corrections, offenders convicted at the state level serve their time in one of the prisons within their own state. While prisoners are separated by the severity of their crimes they are not held at separate facilities based on their crimes as with federal prisons. There are separate state prisons for women and men.