This classification covers government establishments primarily engaged in the confinement and correction of offenders sentenced by a legal court. Private establishments primarily engaged in the confinement and correction of offenders sentences by a court are classified in SIC 8744: Facilities Support Management Services. Halfway houses for ex-convicts and homes for delinquents are classified in SIC 8361: Residential Care.
According to the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), the incarceration rate in federal and state prisons and local jails nearly doubled from the late 1980s to the late 1990s, but slowed down to an average of 3 percent from 1995 to 2005. In 2006, the DOJ reported that there were 2.2 million people incarcerated in the nation's prisons and jails; the total reached 7 million when those on parole or probation were included. The male prison and jail population ratio constituted 1,348 male inmates per 100,000 U.S. males, whereas the female inmate population accounted for 123 females per 100,000 U.S. women in 2004. In 2005, 90 percent of inmates were male. Blacks were five times more likely than whites to be incarcerated and three times more likely than Hispanics to be in jail. Local jails in the United States were filled to 95 percent capacity in 2005, as compared to a decade earlier, when federal and state prisons were operating at from 13 to 27 percent "above" capacity.
Americans are willing to pay for more correctional institutions, at a cost of between $25,000 and $30,000 per prisoner per year, not counting the burgeoning cost to the public for conviction appeals. Although prison incarceration rates increased 51 percent since the crime rate peaked in 1991, annual crime rates have steadily declined, with the exception of a slight increase in 2001. The growth in incarceration rates is primarily due to changes in sentencing policy such as the "three strikes" law, and mandatory sentence guidelines, where offenders are given longer prison sentences. One reason cited for declining crime rates has been the attempt to control recidivism, or crimes repeatedly committed by the same criminal.
The correctional system in the United States, just like the government, is operated on four different levels: federal, state, county, and city. Each has jurisdiction over certain areas, but they also have some overlapping zones of responsibility. By the end of the twentieth century, there were approximately 3,300 jails in the country, by far the majority of them under the auspices of county governments.
The federal prison system, administered by the Bureau of Prisons, includes approximately 40 institutions designed to house men and women who have, for the most part, violated federal laws. Federal prisons are among the most heavily guarded in the nation and provide maximum security. Begun in 1891, the federal prison system was formed when Congress passed legislation to establish three federal penitentiaries at Leavenworth, Kansas; McNeil's Island, off the coast of Washington; and Atlanta, Georgia. Each remain a part of the federal prison system in the late 2000s. These institutions were intended to house those convicted of serious felonies, such as murder, rape, kidnapping, and treason. These were generally considered the most serious of crimes, and the criminals were considered the most violent and dangerous. The prisons built to house them provided the maximum amount of security against escapes, riots, or other disturbances. They were generally built away from cities and communities, often in rural areas, for few citizens want prisons located in their neighborhood.
Not all of the correctional institutions operated by the federal prison system are maximum-security facilities. Medium-security prisons exist in which prisoners may be afforded greater freedom of movement. Prisoners who have demonstrated good behavior may, in some cases, be transferred from a maximum-security prison to a medium-security facility or even a minimum-security facility. At these facilities, which are often referred to as "country clubs," inmates are not subject to constant surveillance and are often housed in open, campus-like structures. They may have lounges, libraries, outdoor recreational facilities, and sleeping rooms rather than traditional cells. Golf courses, tennis courts, and swimming pools are not unheard...