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Massachusetts Public Records
Federal And State Prison

Difference Between Massachusetts Prison and Federal Prison

What is the Difference Between Federal Prison and Massachusetts State Prison?

The justice system of Massachusetts and the federal justice system both have penalties and consequences for criminal convictions. An aspect of this is their department of corrections. The Massachusetts Department of Corrections houses persons convicted for a crime by the state judiciary system. The Federal Prison System implements the incarceration penalty by detaining the federal justice system in a correctional institution. Both are similar in structure, but they differ in many ways.

Federal prisons are under the authority of the Federal Government of the United States, while state prisons are under state authorities' management.

Due to the differences in the law's interpretation as per crime between the state and federal laws, more violent prisoners are in state prisons than in federal prisons. Federal convicts have been found guilty of federal crimes such as inter-border violations or white-collar offenses. On the other hand, state laws provide for penalties against violent and Property crimes such as murders, rapes, aggravated assaults, and intrastate sex offenses.

The Massachusetts Prison System

The Department of Corrections of the State of Massachusetts (MA DOC) oversees and manages 16 correctional institutions across the state. Individuals held within these facilities are either those that have received a conviction from the Massachusetts state courts or federal prisoners in transit. There are three security levels of correctional institutions: minimum/pre-release, medium, and maximum. As of January 2020, the average daily prison population was 8303 inmates; 1064 in minimum-security facilities, 5885 in medium-security facilities, and 1354 in maximum-security facilities:

  • Bay State Correctional Center
  • Boston Pre-Release Center
  • Bridgewater State Hospital
  • Lemuel Shattuck Hospital Correctional Unit
  • MCI - Cedar Junction
  • MCI - Concord
  • MCI - Framingham
  • MCI - Norfolk
  • MASAC - Plymouth
  • MCI - Shirley
  • NCCI/Gardner
  • Northeastern Correctional Center
  • Old Colony Correctional Center
  • Pondville Correctional Center
  • South Middlesex Correctional Center
  • Souza-Baranowski Correctional Center

How to Lookup Inmates in Massachusetts

Interested parties can look up Massachusetts inmate records or details of a prisoner serving time on the MA DOC by calling (866) 277-7477 or using government-approved third-party resources. Requestors must have the full names of the prisoner and their commitment number ready to facilitate the search. Alternatively, members of the public may contact the head office at:

DOC Headquarters
50 Maple Street
Milford, MA 01757

Persons wishing to get money across to an inmate may utilize one of many ways approved by the agency: online, phone, in person, or mail. Use the 'How to deposit money to an inmate's account' page to decide which option is the most suitable.

Massachusetts State Jails

County jails in Massachusetts represent local detention facilities for persons booked for trial or serving custody penalties for misdemeanors. Nineteen local jails serve the 14 counties in the state. According to a federal report in 2014, the jail population was 10,228. A most recent report (2017) does not provide an exact value, but an overall incarceration count involving jail facilities came to 9,120 inmates. Interested persons can inquire about an inmate by contacting the law enforcement agency in charge of the facility or expediting the arrest. The contact details of many local law enforcement agencies are available on the pages of the county website.

How Does the Federal Prison System Work?

The Federal Bureau of Prisons is the national correction agency that receives persons convicted by the justice system into custody. There are five levels of security of prisons in the system. This classification is essential in determining where the system will send a person to serve time. The lowest security level is for mild and non-violent inmates; the highest is for violent offenders. Being a federal system, a convict can get posted to any institution, regardless of which court heard the case. Inmate information is public record, and as such, anyone can access them by going to the Bureau of Prisons website and searching by name or by inmate number. Inmate numbers are more reliable because no two inmates will share a registration number. There is one federal prison (administrative level security) and minimum security satellite camp each in Massachusetts. They are located at:

Federal Medical Center Devens
42 Patton Road
Ayer, MA 01432
Phone: (978) 796-1000
Fax: (978) 796-1118

Federal prisoners do not receive money directly from senders. Instead, they go through a Central Processing Center in Des Moines, Iowa.



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