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An Introduction to Correctional Facilities Essay

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Updated: Mar 18th, 2022

A description of jail’s place in corrections and its role throughout history

Jails play a crucial role when it comes to corrections in the United States. To start with, jails receive offenders who are to be arraigned in court later and the offenders who await trial. The other role that jails play in corrections includes the readmission of parole, probation, bail absconders and violators.

Jails have a place in corrections since they contribute significantly to the temporary detention of juveniles, the mentally challenged persons, as well as individuals who have to be transferred to other facilities (Cole & Smith, 2009). The other role played by jails in the context of corrections includes the reduction of offender recidivism. This role is achieved through the use of correctional strategies, which take the form of community based sanctions as well as services.

The correctional role of jails also includes a change in the behavior of offenders, especially through vocational courses, which offenders learn while in jail. The vocational courses and training given to offenders are instrumental in helping them live a better life after prison (Seiter, 2011).

According to Seiter (2011), “throughout history, jails have played a crucial role in the improvement of offender outcomes.” Jails have been depended upon for the transfer of inmates to local, state, and federal authorities. Moreover, jails have played a crucial role in housing inmates from state and federal prisons who may have overcrowded in these facilities.

In addition, jails have operated programs based in the community whose aim has been to improve the lives of offenders and would be offenders. The other role that jails have played throughout history includes the holding of inmates, especially those sentenced for short periods.

A summary of the history of state and federal prisons

The state and federal prisons can hold criminals who have committed similar crimes. The two forms of prisons can be regarded as alike, although there tends to be many differences between these forms of prisons. The federal prison tends to hold individuals whose incarceration can be considered to be long.

On the other hand, state prisons hold prisoners incarcerated for short periods. State prisons began in the early 1800s; the Sing Sing State prison was the first state prison to be built. This prison is one of the oldest state prisons that has existed for a long period, and which continues to be existent up to date. The emergence of state prisons took the form of small prisons; these prisons became vital as they held most prisoners and high populations of offenders in America.

Since penitentiaries began in each of the states in the United States of America, there has been a sharp increase in the number of prisoners in state prisons. Most states have had to provide funding and finances needed to run the prison systems in their respective states. Historically, it has been the mandate of the states to provide for the staff, food, as well as other necessities needed in the state prisons (Keve, 1995).

The federal prison system traces its history to the 1890s. However, federal prisons witnessed significant changes in 1930 following the signing of a bill by President Herbert Hoover. The bill signed by President Hoover led to the establishment of a federal prison system, which marked the beginning of the building of federal facilities. The introduction of federal laws dealing with bank robbery as well as white collar crimes led to the growth in the federal prison system (Keve, 1995).

A comparison of the similarities and differences between security levels in jails, state prisons, and federal prisons

There are a number of security levels in jails, state prisons, as well as federal prisons, which play an instrumental role in the classification of prisoners. The security levels in state prisons are from level one to level four. The other levels of security in American jails are satellite low security levels as well as satellite camps. Satellite camps include small facilities, which may be next or adjacent to large prisons.

These camps are instrumental because they give prisoners a place they can go when they want to do some work. Satellite low security refers to facilities, which tend to be attached to large facilities. Low security satellites house criminals who have exhibited desirable behavior over time and can be released from prison (Cole & Smith, 2009).

Keve (1995) states “in the federal system of prisons, security levels can be classified as administrative, medium, high, minimum, as well as low.” In most cases, the criminals held in the federal prison comprise of a politician or a drug dealer. These prisons hold offenders who have varying offence levels; most of these offences relate to the former political officials, judicial officials, and immigrants found to illegally cross over the United States border for several times.

An explanation of factors influencing growth in jails, state prisons, and federal prisons

There has been a high growth in the number of people in prisons. This has led to overcrowding in the United States prisons; jails, state prisons, and federal prisons have been affected by this growth. One factor contributing to the growth in jails includes the increasing number of offenders. With time, the number of offenders has increased significantly; this has translated to increase in prisoners, as well as growth in prisons.

Another factor that causes the growth in prisons is the increasing rate of juvenile crimes. The prison population has increased significantly since juveniles are being tried just like adults. The government has altered laws, which address the issue of juvenile offenders. As a result, there have occurred some changes in that there tends to be many juvenile offenders who undergo sentencing than in the past (Cole & Smith, 2009).

The other factor contributing to the growth in jails, prisons and federal prisons include the increasing number of women offenders. In the recent past, women offenders have increased significantly.

This has led to a high number of women in prisons, thus leading to the growth in prisons and federal facilities. The high number of illegal immigrants has also contributed to the growth of prisons. Growth in jails can also be attributed to the rising rates of poverty. Poverty can be termed as a key factor, which accelerates crimes thus leading to a high number of prisoners.

The income inequalities, and the gap between those who are rich and the poor can be termed as one of the major causes of poverty. As a result of poverty, the poor opt to enter in crime with the sole aim of ensuring that they are at par with the rich. Consequently, they find themselves in the wrong side of the law (Cole & Smith, 2009).


Cole, G. F. & Smith, C. (2009). The American System of Criminal Justice. New York: Gardners Books.

Keve, P. W. (1995). Prisons and the American conscience: A history of U.S. federal corrections. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press.

Seiter, R. P. (2011). Corrections: An introduction (3rd ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson/Prentice Hall.

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