What is a Prison?
A prison, also known as a penitentiary or correctional facility is a place in which individuals are physically confined and are deprived of a range of personal freedoms.
Individuals held within prisons and corrections facilities have been either charged with a crime or convicted of a crime. Individuals who have been charged with a crime are incarcerated until they are brought to trial or released. Those who are officially charged with a crime will remain in a prison or jail facility until they completed the duration of their sentence.
An inmate is a person confined to an institution such as a prison (as a convict) or hospital (as a patient).
What are Corrections?
Corrections refers to the supervision of persons arrested for, convicted of, or sentenced for criminal offenses. Correctional populations fall into two general categories: institutional corrections and community corrections.
Who Operates Prisons?
Prisons are operated by city, county, state, federal and military officials. In some cases, they are run by private organizations under contract with a government organization.
As of the end of 2015:
- More than 6.7 million people were supervised by adult correctional systems in the United States,
- About 1 in 37 adults (or 2.7% of all adults) was under some form of correctional supervision
- More than 2.1 million people were either under the jurisdiction of state or federal prisons or in the custody of local jails
- The state prison population decreased by almost 2% from 2014 to 2015.
- On an average day, an estimated 721,300 inmates were confined in county and city jails
For more in depth stats, visit the Bureau of Justice Statistics. The Bureau provides data and research on state and federal prisoners, jail populations, probation, and administrative data on jail facilities and staff.
Prison and Prisoner Resources
Following are resources for prisons, correctional institutions, jails, and inmate searches.
- Amnesty International – Amnesty international is a global network of human rights activists who campaign to end abuses of human rights. Their website provides resources, news, and data on human rights abuses around the world.
- Corrections Connection Network – Provides news, data and vendor intelligence for the corrections community. Provides resources, tools and forums for corrections professionals. Also a great place to stay in touch with the latest news about what is going on within the system. Includes links to inmate locate queries for each state.
- Federal Bureau of Prisons – The Federal Bureau of Prisons website provides information on Federal prison facilities, prison population statistics, inmate locator search tools, and information on Federal careers and jobs.
- PrisonMap.com – PrisonMap.com shows aerial photos of prisons in the United States.
- Prison Policy Initiative – Attempts to document the impact of mass incarceration on individuals and communities in an attempt to improve the criminal justice system. The organization produces cutting edge research to expose harm created by mass incarceration and then sponsors advocacy campaigns to create awareness about the issues.