State Prison Law and Legal Definition

A state prison is a prison operated and maintained by a state and used to confine and rehabilitate criminals. In most cases, the state prison is funded by state tax money. The fund is used to provide food and clothes to inmates and to hire employees to keep the prison running. Inmates are generally held in locked cells during the day. They also enjoy certain privileges such as TV use and phone calls in other areas of the building. The number of privileges allowed depends on the prison.

There are both minimum and maximum security prisons. Criminals who have committed a violent crime or killed someone are likely housed in a maximum security state prison. A maximum security prison is guarded by armed guards and heavy security measures are taken.

State prisons aim to keep criminals away from society so that they can do not further harm to innocent people. Rehabilitation is the main goal in a state prison where non-violent inmates are housed. Many state prisons are underfunded, however, and they are often not effective at offering rehabilitation services to inmates.

State prison or penitentiary inflicts infamy, and that no offense involving such imprisonment can be prosecuted by information. In Pennsylvania and the southern states these prisons are called "penitentiaries." But in nearly all the northern states the term "state-prison" is used synonymously with the word "penitentiary." [United States v. Smith, 40 F. 755, 759 (C.C.D. Va. 1889)].