Difference Between Washington D.C. Prison and Federal Prison

What is the Difference Between Federal Prison and District of Columbia State Prison?

The District of Columbia prisons are correctional facilities tasked with housing offenders sentenced within the state's jurisdiction. Persons found guilty and convicted of state crimes are incarcerated in District of Columbia prisons. On the other hand, federal prisons are institutions that house federal offenders. Offenders in federal prison break federal laws and are convicted of political crimes, fraud, embezzlement of public funds, etc. The differences between the District of Columbia state prisons and federal prisons are as stated below:

  1. Funding: The District of Columbia prisons are funded by taxpayers. Hence, the Department Of Corrections can only receive a limited amount of funding for the upkeep of the inmates. In contrast, the federal government funds federal prisons. Therefore, the prisons' regulatory body, the Bureau of Prisons, gets better funding for inmates in the federal prison system. For this reason, there are often better training and rehabilitation programs available to federal offenders than the residents in the state prisons.
  2. Facility numbers: There are 122 federal prisons in the country, but only two D.C. Department of Corrections prisons and other halfway houses.
  3. Prisoner transfers: D.C. inmates serve their full sentences in the District's correctional institution. On the other hand, federal inmates can be transferred from one state to another.
  4. Security: Federal prisons tend to be more secure than the prisons in D.C., even though both prisons tend to be enclosed by high walls, patrol guards, etc. Federal prisons have more resources to maintain high-security facilities than state-managed correctional institutions.
  5. Management agencies: The prisons in D.C. are managed and controlled by the Department of Corrections, while the Bureau of Prisons operates federal facilities through the Department of Justice.
  6. Finding inmates: In D.C., an inmate can be found using the inmate locator provided on the Department of Corrections website. On the other hand, an interested party can locate a federal inmate with the federal inmate locator available on the Bureau of Prisons' website.

District of Columbia Prison System

The District of Columbia Prison system is controlled and managed by the Department of Corrections. The department is responsible for the custody and care of inmates who are held in custody. The DOC offers several programs for inmates, including education, reentry, pre and post-release case planning, mentoring, housing, substance abuse, and mental health programs. The District of Columbia has the highest imprisonment rate in the United States at 1,153 per 100,000 people. The prisons managed by the Department of Corrections can house 3,624 inmates. However, the current population of D.C. inmates is about 1,477, including the residents in halfway houses within the District. Of the total D.C. inmate population, male inmates make up 88% of residents.

How to Look Up an Inmate in the District of Columbia

District of Columbia inmate records and general inmate information are maintained by the prison facility housing the respective inmates. Any interested party can locate District of Columbia inmates in any state holding facility by calling the department's records office on (202) 523-7060.

Department of Corrections
2000 14th Street
North West Seventh Floor
Washington DC 20009
Phone: (202) 698-4932
Fax: (202) 671-2043
Email: doc@dc.gov

In DC, all inmates have a financial account which is created during the intake process. Through these accounts, relatives and friends can send money to inmates. There are three ways of sending money:

  • Western union
  • Offender's Connect
  • Inmate Connector Kiosk in the Correctional Treatment Facility

Correctional Treatment Facility (CTF)
1901 East Street
South East
Washington, DC 20003

District of Columbia County Jails

The Central Detention Facility (CDF) is the only detention institution that serves as a jail in the District of Columbia. The facility, which opened in 1976, has a population capacity of 2,164 inmates. The jail houses only male misdemeanants. It also houses offenders who are awaiting trial. To locate an inmate in the CDF, interested persons can use the inmate locator, send a mail to the Department of Corrections, or visit the DC DOC office. Another way to check for an inmate is to send a mail or visit the CDF in person at:

Central Detention Facility
1901 D Street South East
Washington DC 20003
Phone: (202) 698-4932

How Does the Federal Prison System Work?

The federal prison system is a correctional institution managed by the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP). The BOP was created to ensure public safety by rehabilitating offenders. Offenders in the system are housed in safe, secure, humane, and cost-effective facilities. This ensures that inmates become better citizens after release. The BOP oversees 122 prisons with 37,411 staff, and these prisons hold about 152,174 inmates across the country. The facilities have five security levels based on the severity of the crime committed or the criminal history of the offender:

  • The minimum-security facilities, or Federal Prison Camps (FPCs), hold inmates who have a few days left in their sentences.

  • The low-security facilities, known as the Federal Correctional Institution (FCI), contain non-violent offenders and residents who have few days remaining in detention.

  • The medium-security institutions, also referred to as the FCI, hold offenders with some criminal history but are not so violent.

  • The high-security facilities, the United States Penitentiary (USP), confine violent offenders or those prone to absconding.

  • The administrative institutions were built for special purposes, including medical treatment for inmates with severe medical problems, holding pretrial offenders, and confining very dangerous inmates. The administrative facilities of the BOP are as follows:

  • Metropolitan Correctional Centers (MCC)

  • Metropolitan Detention Centers (MDC)

  • Federal Detention Centers (FDC)

  • Federal Medical Centers (FMC)

  • Federal Transfer Center (FTC)

  • The Medical Center for Federal Prisoners (MCFP)

  • Administrative-Maximum Security Penitentiary (ADX)

The BOP offers inmates several educational, religious, work, and reentry programs. The agency also provides treatment sessions: substance abuse treatment, mental health, and sexual abuse prevention, to all inmates in federal prison institutions.