Federal Prison vs State Prison: 15 Crucial Differences with Similarities

What is the difference between federal prisons and state prisons?

The United States of America is known to have the highest number of prisons in the world due to high populations. These prisons are divided into federal and state depending on the type of offense.

The main difference between state prison and federal prison is that state prison is more dangerous while federal prison is cushy and more comfortable.

federal prison vs state prison

Comparison Table: Federal Prison vs State Prison

Basic Terms Federal Prison State Prison
Number of Prison Lower in number Higher in number
Security Level A higher level of security The lower level of security
Offense White-collar criminals and political offenders Hardcore criminals
Safety Safer Quite unsafe
Function Detain offenders Rehabilitate and execute offenders
Managed by US government (BOP) State (DOC)
Color of Uniform Inmates have the same color of the uniform Inmates have a different color of the uniform
Numbers of Inmates Few numbers of inmates A large number of inmates
Length of Sentence Tend to be longer Tend to be either longer or shorter
Movement of Prisoners Inmates can be transferred to another federal prison Inmates serve their entire sentence is one prison
Quality of Management Funded by the federal government and have a bigger budget Funded by state tax money and have a lower budget
Facilities Adequate facilities Inadequate facilities
Type of Offenders Drug offenders, fraudsters, corrupt politicians, money launderers Murderers, rapists, purse snatchers
Work Inmates are not subjected to any type of work Inmates are subjected to a certain type of work as a form of rehabilitation
Appeal No appeal There is an appeal

What is a Federal Prison?

Federal prisons are typically meant for those people who violate federal laws. The prisons are funded by the federal government.

The perception about the prison is that they have modern facilities and they are quite safe. They are typically meant for non-violent prisoners.

What is State Prison?

State prisons are meant for those individuals who violate state laws. They are managed and funded by the states. They have the highest number of inmates.

The perceptions about the prison are that they have inadequate facilities and typically not safe. They are meant for those prisoners who are violent.

Main Differences between Federal Prison and State Prison In Point Form

  1. The number of federal prisons is low while those of state prisons are quite high
  2. The level of security in state prison is low while that of federal prison is quite high
  3. The federal-state is meant for white-collar and political offenders whereas state prison is meant for hardcore criminals
  4. The state prison is quite unsafe whereas federal prison is quite safe
  5. Federal prison has a lower number of prisoners whereas state prison has a higher number of prisoners
  6. Federal prison inmates wear the same uniforms whereas state prisons inmates wear different uniforms
  7. The length of sentence in federal states is longer while that of a state prison is either longer or shorter
  8. Federal prison have adequate facilities whereas state prisons have inadequate facilities
  9. Federal prison inmates can be transferred to other federal prisons whereas state prison inmates movement is quite limited
  10. Examples of federal prisoners are drug offenders, fraudsters, corrupt politicians, and money launderers while state prisoners are murderers, rapist, and purse-snatchers

Similarities between Federal Prison and State Prison

  1. In case of death, the chaplain inform the next of kin for burial arrangement
  2. The level of security is almost the same
  3. Both have separate facilities for men and women
  4. Both inmates undergo rehabilitation and counseling
  5. Both have different custody for convicts
  6. Both are built nearly with the same design

Frequently Asked Questions (Federal Prison vs State Prison)

  • Is Federal Prison Better than State Prison?

Federal prisons are perceived to be better than state prisons. But these prisons are nearly the same in terms of security and facilities.

  • What is the Nicest Federal Prison?

They include; Halden Prison, Otago Corrections Facility, Butner Federal Correctional Institution, Suomenlinna Prison, Qincheng Prison, and Mahanoy State Correctional Institution.

  • What Crimes Get You Into Federal Prison?

They include; mail fraud, aircraft hijacking, carjacking, kidnapping, lynching, bank robbery, child pornography, credit card fraud, identity theft, computer crimes, and federal hate crimes

  • Is It Against The Law To Hack?

Yes. The punishment is up to one year in prison. It is termed as knowingly accessing any computer, computer system, or network without permission.

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Comparison Video


Therefore, federal prison is for inmates who have committed federal crimes whereas state prison is for inmates who have committed a state crime. Both prisons rehabilitate and counsel the inmates

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