People have a lot of misconceptions about life in prison. As with most things in life, you can’t really know or understand it until you experience it yourself. Thankfully, most of us have to rely on TV and movies to get an idea of prison life, something Hollywood rarely does.
While displaying like orange is the new black and prison Break Make sure some details are correct, for the most part, what you see on screen in prison cells and everyday prison life isn’t accurate. Minimum security prisons are far from ‘White Collar Resort“, I don’t know how that rumor started.
What’s the Difference Between Prison Security Levels? Are prisoners free to move around? What is the cell like? And, if you want, can you stay in your cell?
In this blog post, I will cover the following topics:
- different hosting levels
- What is the Prisoner Movement?
- Different Types of Prisoner Housing
- Can you stay in your cell?
different hosting levels
I’ve said before on this blog that no two prisons are the same. There are differences between federal and state prisons, and public and private facilities. For example, state prisons house inmates convicted of crimes such as murder, battery, robbery and drug possession. Federal prisons house inmates convicted on federal charges including drug trafficking, identity theft and child pornography.
Within these facilities, there are significant differences between “regulatory levels”—minimum, low, medium, high, and maximum security.
As a prisoner, your level of detention depends on the crime you were convicted of and the length of your sentence. For example, my marijuana case would normally be classified as a “minimum security” custody case because it was a first non-violent drug offense and I had no criminal record, but since my sentence was 15 years, I automatically For the first three years of my career, I was at the highest security level.
Each level of detention incorporates different levels of security, inmate planning, and staffing requirements. This really affects the daily life of prisoners. The type of environment a prisoner is placed in depends on the level of supervision, as well as factors such as the presence of staff, housing, recreation and work program availability.
Minimum security prisoners are often convicted of low-level drug offenses and white-collar crimes. These facilities allow most inmates to move and offer more programming options than other security levels, but they are far from resorts.
Medium-security facilities still offer inmates job opportunities and educational programs, but have more restrictions on inmate movement. Maximum security prisons have the strictest restrictions on programming and inmate movement, and are the type of prisons often portrayed in the media.
What is the Prisoner Movement?
When I say “prisoner movement,” it’s the term used to describe how prisoners are controlled. Open facilities allow inmates to move around the campus as they please during the day, going to classes, work, dining halls, medical care, recreation, church, etc…
Some facilities restrict movement, like the women’s prison where I was. In a restricted-mobility facility, inmates can “move” for approximately five to ten minutes per hour. During that time, prisoners can leave their residences and travel to specific destinations, such as libraries or casinos.
When prisoners “walk,” it’s slang for inmates who leave their housing units and walk from building to building on sidewalks, but officers are strategically deployed throughout the site to monitor Activity.
While walking, you may not stop to talk to other prisoners, and you may not go to buildings that are not open. Once the moving time is over, you have to reach your destination or you could be in serious trouble.
In “closed operations” or maximum security facilities, prisoners are only allowed to leave their cells for an hour or two a day to shower, make phone calls, go to the casino, etc…
Different Types of Prisoner Housing
In low-security facilities, prisoners are often housed in dormitory-style units rather than units traditionally known as “cells.” Dorm style can look a few different ways. It can be one large room with as many as 100 bunk beds, or it can be a room divided by a half wall into a bunch of cubicles, each with at least two beds.
The prison I was in had college dormitory-style housing, with each housing unit having wings and gated corridors. Each prisoner has a door key, and each wing has communal bathrooms and shower areas.
Six of us lived in each 10’x10′ room, with bunk beds for the four girls on one side and two “Cadillac beds” on the other side for the remaining two prisoners. There are also six lockers in the room, with a table and two chairs in the center.
Cell-based housing is generally reserved for users with medium security levels and higher. This is where film and television often get it right. The cell is no larger than 8ft x 8ft and has either a single bed or a bunk bed on one side, depending on whether it is designed for one or two prisoners. Some facilities have three tiers of bunks, which I think sounds awful.
On the other side, there is usually a table, a sink and a toilet. Most cells also usually have some kind of shelving to store your belongings. At a medium security level, your cell door can usually remain open throughout the day. At the highest security level and SuperMax level, the cell door remains closed.
Can you stay in your cell?
If you are a prisoner in a maximum security or SuperMax facility, then yes, you can stay in your cell. Most likely at this level, you are not allowed to leave your cell for more than an hour or two per day. But if you don’t have a phone to call or don’t feel like taking a shower or going to rest, you don’t have to leave.
Your food is delivered to your cell instead of the mess hall, work tasks are limited, and programming is done by correspondence.
At lower security levels, the answer to today’s blog post question is no — you can’t stay in a cell all day. In most cases, if an inmate does not have a high school diploma, they must go to school, or they must find a job.
If you are a student, you must attend classes Monday to Friday as normal school days. Workers have a job with a full-time work schedule that you are never allowed to cancel. That means staying in a cell isn’t an option at all.
However, when you finish your course or job, you can usually stay in the cell for the rest of the day. The only exception is if you need to attend special programs or treatments. Ultimately, you have to go where the “people” want you to be, when they want you to be.
This article is a general view of prison life based on my own experience and research I have done at other facilities. Let me know in the comments below if your prison experiences with housing and prisoner mobility have been different!
Sources: What's The Difference Between Minimum, Medium, and Maximum Security Prisons? https://archive.attn.com/stories/2968/differences-between-prisons#:~:text=Minimum%20security%20facilities%20often%20house,the%20end%20of%20a%20sentence. Breaking Down the Different Types of Prisons in America Prison Housing