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A prison system is the organized institution that is tasked with the responsibility of administering corrective and restitutive justice through the incarceration of the offenders. Every independent nation operates a prison system that is tasked with the task of ensuring that the offenders are held safely so that the state security is not jeopardized. At these facilities, the inmates are usually held under some sort of security and they are deprived some of their basic rights as a punishment towards the crimes that they commit. This therefore ensures that the inmates are coerced into correction as they have a feeling that they are being prohibited from what they had done. Conditions at these total institutions vary from one area to the other. However, there is a certain specific aspect that makes all prison have some commonalities; the basic fact that all prisoners are confined for wrongs that they have already committed and they have been tried at a competent court and have been found to be guilty (Roth, 2006).
In the United States, the prison system is divided into two broad categories; the federal prison system and the state prison system. The two prison services system ensures that criminals are kept away from the general public. The systems also have a difference in the jurisdictions that they have over the offenders. State prison system have the mandate to house criminals who go against the concerned state's laws while the federal prison system is tasked with the responsibility of housing criminals who commit acts that are against the country's set laws.
The origin of the state prisons system
In his analysis of the origin of the state prison system, Todd, Cole and Reisig, (2008), assert that the state prison system traces its origin from the early 19th century. Of particular mention is the building of Sing Sing state prison which has outlived the test of times to its current use as a state prison. The need to have corrective justice among the offenders of the set state rules motivated the starting of the state prison system. After this early starts, the state run prisons have continued to grow with significant speed especially due to the sharp increase of offenders in various states.
With an established state prison system, various states had to commit their funds to fund the systems. The prison consume money through the staff that maintain law and order within the confines of the prisons, the feeding programs to the inmates among other costs such as expansion medical and other welfare issues for the prisoners. According to Bosworth, (2006), running a state prison has become an expensive affair. Citing the example of New York State, Bosworth, (2006), asserts that the state has to have a budgetary allocation of over a billion dollars annually to run this prison. Issues of increased crime rate across the American populace have been cited as the main motivators for the increased budgetary allocation for prisons as the money must be provided to cater for the rising number of prisoners.
The origin of the federal prisons system
On the other hand the federal prison system is a later development compared to the state prison systems. According to Todd, Cole and Reisig, (2008), the history of the federal run prison dates back to the 1890s where the first informal federal prisons started operating. The formalization of this system of criminal justice system was officiated later in 1930 when a bill that establishes the federal prison system was signed by former president Herbert Hoover. This eased the process of incarcerating prisoners as they were no longer expected to pay for being held at the state as well as at local prisons.
Comparison between the two prison systems
As already noted, the two prison systems are concerned with incarceration of offenders to prohibit further crime. However, the two are separated by the nature of the criminals that they hold. According to May et al, (2007), the state prison system has been stereotyped from holding the blue collar criminals while the state prison system houses the white collars criminals. Although this are street terms for classifying the criminals held by the varying prison system, Cole and Smith, (2007), points out that it is common to find that they state prison houses offenders that require maximum security while the federal prison houses prisoners who require a lower level of security but for longer period of time.
The federal criminal justice system classifies the levels of security into five tires. These are the minimum security, low security medium security high security and lastly the administrative level. The federal prisons have today been dominated by the drug sellers as well as drug consumers. This is because peddling of drugs is managed under the states law and thus any offence that is committed against the constitution of the state must be punished within the state's criminal justice system. due to the dangers that this group of people places to the general public, security levels at the state prisons is usually maintained at high standards to ensure that the offenders do not organize escapes and harm the public (Roth, 2006).
On the other hand, the states prison's security is organized in four levels of security which Bosworth, (2006), identifies as minimum security for level one, medium security for level two, high security for level three and lastly the super maximum security for level four. The four security levels operate within a system that divides the state prison system into a network of small prisons tasked with holding the majority of the country's population of prisoners. Within this system of state run prison, there is the half way houses system that is granted minimum security and is used to house offenders who are on their way out of the jail terms. They are thus given little security to observe their behavior before they are released from the prison confinements.
The type of offenders to be held in a state run prison varies. As noted by May et al, (2007), state prisons can incarcerate sex offenders, habitual offenders, drug users as well as those accused of committing various categories of violent crimes. These categories of offenders are held in different category of security prisons with those known for high level offences being confined in highly secured prison services. The high security acts as a guarantee that the offenders can not stage an escape bid and overpower the security assigned to them. This guarantees that the prisoners are held safely within the confines of the prison facilities.
In conclusion, despite the appearance that the United States of America has two different prison systems, the two systems have a similar concept. They all work to ensure that those who commit offences remains confined in prison facilities at maximum security to ensure that they are denied some rights as a negative reward for their anti social behavior and that they are punished for what they do against the laws of either the federal government or the state government. The two systems of prisons therefore have been established to cater for different categories of criminals and to ensure that behaviors that are considered to be against the law are contained. However, despite having two prison systems in the United States, the population of inmates has remained uncomfortably high, a fact that calls for urgent expansion of prisons in the United States.