State VS Federal Prison

According to estimates, there are some 219,000 inmates locked up in federal prison - a 790 percent increase from the 25,000 behind bars there were some 30 years ago - and hundreds of thousands more who are incarcerated in state prisons, accounting for about $70 billion worth of total funding each year.

The aforementioned prisons - state and federal - are the two major types of systems used for inmates today, but the reasons as to why an inmate is sent to either the state or federal location varies based on the crime committed. There's a variety of other significant differences between the federal and state prisons, as well.

Here's a closer look at these differences:

Federal Prisons

Simply put, inmates that have violated a federal law are sent to a federal prison. These include crimes such as:

Federal prisons are widely considered to be the safer of the two prisons systems. According to Correction Yearbook estimates, the assault rate for federal prison inmates is about one per every 58, which is significantly less than in a state prison (more on that later). Additionally, federal prisons are often nicer than state facilities. The reasoning behind this is because they're funded by the federal - and not the state - government, which is a more reliable source of revenue. However, federal prisons are becoming more and more crowded, which is reducing the quality of the so-called creature comforts.

State Prisons

While no prison can be considered a five-star hotel, state prisons are generally the more dangerous of the two facilities. They're also a strategic tool in the courtroom, as many defendants who are eligible to be sent to either a state or federal prison for the crime they're being accused of are more likely to plead "guilty" in order to increase their chances of being sent to a federal prison over a state prison.

State prisons should not be confused with state correctional facilities. The latter is more for short-term inmates whose crimes have no connection to the federal government, while the former is for long-term inmates.

Those who have violated a state law or were charged by state authorities can find themselves sentenced to state prison. Some of these crimes include:

One of the main reasons why state prisons are perceived in a more negative light than federal facilities is that, generally speaking, more violent criminals are behind state bars. In fact, it's estimated that one out of every 36 inmates in state prison was assaulted. This is partially due to the fact that inmates are usually not separated based on the severity of their crime in these institutes. Furthermore, state prison guards are also known to act more authoritatively with out of line or ill behaving inmates than in a federal facility.

However, one benefit to staying in the state prison system is that, in some cases, visitation is more flexible. Many medium security state prisons offer trailer visits, where inmates are given conjugal time with their friends and loved ones in more private on-site trailers.