Prison Placement

Calculating your custody level is important because it determines the type of prison in which you can expect to be incarcerated.  The key factors include:

  1. Voluntary Surrender
  2. Length of Sentence
  3. Past Criminal History
  4. History of Violence
  5. Age
  6. Educational Level

Based on that analysis you receive a certain number of points which is also expressed in a Custody Designation generally based on the following: 

Camp =                      Community Custody (less than 2 years to release date) or Out Custody and

11security points or less

Low =                         Out Custody or In Custody and 12 – 16 security points  

Medium =                  In Custody and 16 – 23 security points

Penitentiary =            24+ security points.    

Your classification is subject to change over the course of incarceration in a positive way based on good behavior and reaching the next age threshold or in a negative way from bad conduct in prison.  While these are the general guidelines, the process is a bit flexible.  Prisons can issue variables to hold you in a prison that is either higher or lower than your qualified custody level.  I served time with inmates who had Pen points at Miami Low, there for Spanish RDAP, while others like myself, with Camp points, are sometimes held at a Low for administrative or punitive reasons.  Non-US citizens and child molesters are not Camp eligible.[1]

The prisons themselves are separated among 6 separate Regional offices.  Things can and are run dramatically different depending on the Region.  The Regions and states they encompass are as follows.

Mid-Atlantic – TN, NC, KY, WV, VA, MD, DE

North Central – CO, ND, SD, NE, KS, MN, WI, IA, MO, MI, IN, IL

Northeast – OH, PA, NJ, NY, VT, NH, CT, MA, RI, ME

South Central – NM, TX, OK, AR, LA

Southeast – MS, AL, SC, GA, FL, PR

Western – AK, WA, MT, OR, ID, WY, NV, UT, CA, AZ, HI, GU[2]  

[1] The same is supposed to apply for inmates with detainers, typically related to a concurrent State case, however, I had a friend with just such a detainer who was with me in Miami Camp.

[2] For additional information on prisons see the Federal Prison Guidebook.