General Question

Zissou's avatar

Do federal convicts always go to federal prisons?

Asked by Zissou (2962points) September 30th, 2017

If someone is convicted on a federal charge and sentenced to incarceration, will they necessarily go to some kind of federal correctional institution, or do federal courts ever send people to state prisons?

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11 Answers

Love_my_doggie's avatar

I don’t know about federal v. state prisons.

I do know that my city’s jail houses federal detainees who are placed by U.S. Marshalls and awaiting or undergoing trial. The federal court pays a rental fee to the city government. On average, about ⅓ of the jail’s inmates are held for federal, not state or local, charges.

Of course, jail isn’t prison; it’s for temporary and short-term incarceration.

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Call_Me_Jay's avatar

The Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) site says:

154,059 (82%) inmates are confined in BOP-operated facilities
18,854 (11%) inmates are confined in privately-managed facilities
12,827 (7%) inmates are confined in other facilities

Clicking through it says “other facilities” are “Community-Based Facilities”. No state prisons are listed.

This archived BOP page says”
“Approximately 15 percent of the Bureau’s inmate population are confined in secure facilities operated primarily by private corrections companies and to a lesser extent by state and local governments, and in privately-operated community corrections centers.”

But I can’t find anything explaining the details.

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

If you commit a federal crime, such as robbing an FDIC insured bank, you will usually do time in a federal prison. But I know of one case where that didn’t happen. The man was charged with robbing 52 commercial banks over a four year period. The FBI figured he’d nabbed a total of $3.5 from banks all over the country. All the while, the man had been putting a portion away for a defense fund for when he would eventually get caught.

By the time they got him, he had close to a million dollars in the fund and was able to afford a top notch lawyer. The man had a clean criminal record before this and had come home from three tours in Vietnam a bemedaled Special Forces veteran. In the end, they were only able to convicted him of one bank job and a deal was made for him to do 2 to 5 in a state prison. He wanted state time because it was easier than fed time and he got it.

He did two years in a state facility, went out on a three year parole, went underground within a year, ended up on a sailing yacht in the Caribbean with a buxom French girlfriend, and died of a heart attack at sea a few years later.

That is the only case I’ve ever heard of where someone committed a federal crime and did state time.

Jeruba's avatar

I met someone whose boyfriend was serving time for his involvement in (what sounded to me like) a drug-related or gang-related death. He was sentenced to 26 years in the county jail. Or so she said. I don’t know what the actual charges were, though.

Call_Me_Jay's avatar

I think a 26-year sentence means prison, not jail, anywhere in the US.

County jails are for people awaiting trial and people serving sentences less than a year. Prisons (state and federal) are for sentences 1 year and longer.

That is also the difference between a misdemeanor and a felony. Misdemeanors have a sentence of less that one year. Felonies have a possible sentence of one year or more.

For example, here in Illinois, if I steal less than $500 of property left outside unattended, it’s a misdemeanor and I go to county jail for less than a year.

If I mug you on the street for $500, it’s a felony and I can go to prison for a year or more.

As defined in Illinois law, those are theft (misdemeanor) or robbery (felony).

Jeruba's avatar

Well, we were in the lobby of the county jail at the time, and she was there to visit him. She said she’d already been doing it twice a week for six months. I saw her there more than once. But as I said, I don’t know the particulars.

Zissou's avatar

Thanks for your answers, everyone. This thread turned out to be more interesting than I expected.

Asking for a friend (truly!).

Dutchess_III's avatar

I somehow don’t think they would incarcerate some one for 26 years in a county jail. I used to teach in our country jail. They didn’t have a yard where they could go outside. No work out gym. Just a cell with no electronics, and a common cafeteria. They were mostly mild offenders, in for marijuana. Granted, I got the creme of the crop for my students. They wouldn’t put a rapist or violent offender in a locked room with me!

jca's avatar

County jail is for people with sentences one year or less.

Dutchess_III's avatar

We have a minimum security facility outside of town. They have a huge yard, with a basket ball court. It’s enclosed by a 5 or 6 foot fence of chain link. Easily scaleable if they so choose. They choose not to.
I used to be kind of scared of it, but after working at the jail, I’m not scared any more and I wave to the guys when we go by.
I’d work there in a heartbeat now.

LOL! When I was working at the jail we attended a meeting there to discuss security. The staff counter, which you see first thing when you get off the elevator, is about 10 feet from the room I worked in. They were telling my staff how easy it would be to be over powered by my guys because they were so close.
Linda says, “Oh, we have the door locked. We just put her in there and lock her in with the students!”
The look on their faces was priceless! I just grinned and shrugged my shoulders.
I not only had county kids, but right after I got there, like within the first week they contracted with the KDOC to house actual prisoners from actual prisons around the state, like Lancing and Larned. The DOC guys were my favorites. As a whole, they were smarter than the county students. The county students tended to give me a little more trouble, but overall, there was no trouble at all. I loved them all.
When I got sick (and subsequently lost my job) they made me a card begging me to come back. WE NEED YOU!!! They yelled. RETURN IMMEDIATELY!!! That’s because the teacher who took over for me was an idiot and no one liked her. Especially me.
At one point she told me she couldn’t even get the students to come to class and she had nothing to do all day. It was optional for them.

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