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prisons types

There are various types of institutions that confine convicted lawbreakers or persons awaiting trial. They may be known as penitentiaries, reformatories, or correctional centres, as well as the more commonly known 'prisons' or 'jails'. In the United States, a jail generally refers to a local prison holding people convicted of less serious crimes or awaiting trial. Many people consider prisons to be only those institutions that confine adults convicted of major crimes. Institutions for young offenders include youth custody centres and detention centres. In addition, specially built remand centres, separate from prisons, hold people who are awaiting trial.

Women form a small proportion of all inmates in prisons. Most of them are held in prisons which house only women. Experts classify prisons by the degree of security or control they provide. The main types are (1) maximum security prisons, (2) medium security prisons, and (3) minimum security or open prisons.

Maximum security prisons generally hold prisoners serving long sentences. These prisoners have commited murder, robbery, kidnapping, treason, or over serious crimes. High stone walls or strong chain fences surround most maximum security prisons. Many of these barriers have electronic detection devices and powerful spotlights. Prisoners live in cells and eat either in their cells or in a dining hall. Prison officials limit the length and number of visits by family and friends. During such visits, thick glass or wire screens separate some prisons and visitors to prevent the exchange of such prohibited items as drugs and weapons. Other prisoners and visitors are allowed to be together. Some prisons use X ray devices to check visitors for hidden weapons.

Medium security prisons hold inmates who have commited less serious crimes, such as minor assaults and small thefts. The inmates in medium security prisons are generally less dangerous than those in maximum security prisons. Medium security prisons may be surrounded by fences with guard towers. Some have educational and athletic facilities similar to schools.

Minimum security or open prisons are the least restrictive prisons. Inmates of minimum security prisons are not considered dangerous and are unlikely to flee prison. Many of these inmates were convicted of such nonviolent crimes as business theft, forgery, obstruction of justice and perjury. They live in comfortable rooms and usually may move about within the prison as they please. Minimum security prisons range from large institutions to small farm or forestry camps.

Juvenile correctional centres generally hold offenders under the age of 18. The institutions keep young prisoners away from the bad influence of dangerous adult criminals. Remand centres hold young people who have been accused of commiting crimes and are awaiting trial. Detention centres, or youth custody centres, are institutions where convicted youths serve their sentences. Most of these sentences last about a year. The centres offer counselling, education, job training and recreation.

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