Prison Security: Levels & Characteristics

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  • 0:00 Prison Security Levels
  • 0:35 Maximum Security
  • 1:45 Medium Security
  • 2:15 Minimum Security
  • 3:00 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Janell Blanco
Prison security has different levels and different characteristics and this lesson will discuss this. There will also be a short quiz at the end of the lesson to test your knowledge.

Prison Security Levels

You've probably heard terms like minimum security or maximum security used for prisons before, most likely on TV shows like CSI or Criminal Minds. But actually, there are several different levels of prison security. Inmates are placed in these levels based upon their criminal history and their history while incarcerated.

There are some classification differences between state prisons and Federal prisons. Federal prisons have five different levels while most states have three levels. In this lesson, we'll explore the state levels: maximum, medium, and minimum security prisons.

Maximum Security

Maximum security prisons, also known as 'high security' in the Federal prison system, house some of the worst criminals out there. These criminals have a violent criminal history or have committed violent crimes while incarcerated. These inmates need the most security and pose a threat to other inmates, prison guards, and society as a whole.

Maximum security prisons have heavy doors that are used to keep the inmates locked in the cells. They have a window to see out of and a slot for the food tray to go in and out of. The doors are operated by a prison guard at a control center.

The inmates typically spend 23 hours a day in their cells. During the hour they're allowed out, they're transported with physical restraints and escorted by several officers. The inmates are allowed to shower or exercise during their hour out of the cell.

What do you think the outside of the prison looks like? It's about as severe as you're probably imagining. Picture a high cement or brick wall with electric chain and barbed wire fences around the facility and several security towers with armed prison guards. Much like the inside of the prison, the outside also has the most security measures in place.

Medium Security

Medium security prisons still have quite a bit of security measures in place. The inmates are housed in their own cells, but they have more opportunities to leave them. Medium security prisons allow for inmates to attend treatment programs.

The inmates are locked in their cells each night and a bed check and an inmate count is conducted to make sure each inmate is in their proper cell. The outside of the prison isn't as secure as the maximum, but it's still pretty hard to imagine someone escaping. Medium security prisons have double fences instead of the triple fences.

Minimum Security

Minimum security prisons have the least amount of security. Not all inmates are confined behind the prison walls. In a minimum security prison, some inmates are allowed to work in work-camps outside the prisons, which are supervised by prison guards.

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