What Are the Common Types of Prisons?

Have you been charged with a dangerous crime and are about to go to prison for the first time? Are you worried about getting mixed up with the wrong people?

Don’t worry too much. A dangerous prison is rare.

But what are the most dangerous prisons? What kinds of people should watch out for?

Let’s cut through the confusion. This article covers the types of prisons in the United States and Canada.

Here are the common types of prisons.


Maximum security prisons are the most restrictive. They are designed for prisoners who are considered a high-security risk.

Inmates are kept in single cells and have little to no contact with other prisoners. They are closely monitored and have limited access to the outside world.


Minimum security prisons are also known as federal prisons and are for nonviolent offenders. These prisoners are typically given more freedom and are allowed to have jobs within the confines of going to jail.

Minimum security prisons are the least restrictive. Inmates are typically kept in dormitories and have more contact with other prisoners and the outside world. They are typically monitored less closely than medium security prisoners.


Medium security prisons are less restrictive than maximum security prisons. Inmates are still kept in cells, but they may have more contact with other prisoners and more access to the outside world.

Juvenile Detention Centers

Juvenile detention centers are facilities that confine and rehabilitate young offenders.

Those centers are operated by local governments and are used to house juveniles who have committed crimes.

Supermax Facilities

Supermax facilities, also known as secure housing units (SHU), are the most secure type of prison and are reserved for the most dangerous inmates. Inmates in a supermax facility are typically kept in solitary confinement and have little to no contact with the outside world.

Supermax facilities began popping up in the 1980s in response to a series of high-profile inmate escapes. These prisons are designed to be escape-proof, and inmates are held in cells that are typically no larger than 80 square feet.

The cells are usually equipped with a toilet, a sink, a bed, and a small desk or table. Inmates are typically allowed out of their cells for one hour a day, and during this time they are usually allowed to shower, exercise, and make phone calls.

If one of your loved ones has been locked up and you want to visit him or her, you can consider reading these tips for visiting a prisoner.

Types of Prisons: The Good, The Bad, and the Wild

There are several different types of prisons in the United States, each with its own unique purpose. The most common type of prison is the low-security prison. Other types of prisons include maximum, minimum, medium, and supermax facilities.

If you or a loved one has been incarcerated, it is important to understand the different types of prisons and their conditions. An experienced criminal defense attorney can help you navigate the criminal justice system and fight for your freedom.

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