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An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

Correctional Institutions


Inmates under the care and custody of a local, state, or federal correctional authority are generally housed in one of two types of facilities – a local jail or a state or federal prison. BJS collects data on the administration and operation of both types of facilities.  

  • Jails confine persons before or after adjudication and are usually operated by local law enforcement authorities such as a sheriff, a police chief, or a county or city administrator. A small number of jails are privately operated. Regional jails include two or more jail jurisdictions with a formal agreement to operate a jail facility. Persons confined in a jail facility following a criminal conviction are usually sentenced to an incarceration sentence of 1 year or less.
  • Prisons confine persons after they are convicted of a criminal offense and are usually operated under the authority of a state Department of Corrections or the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP). As with jails, some prisons are privately operated. Persons confined in a prison are typically serving an incarceration sentence of more than 1 year.