District of Columbia Jail & Prison

Find District of Columbia jails, prisons, detention centers, departments of corrections, and penitentiaries. Jails and prisons provide information on inmate searches, rosters, lookups, lists, records, and mugshot photos.

Jails & Prisons Near Me

Jails & Prisons by County

About Jails & Prisons

What is a Jail or Prison?

A Jail or Prison is a secure facility where individuals, referred to as inmates, are involuntarily confined and their freedoms and movement are restricted as a consequence of criminal behavior. Jail refers to a short-term facility where inmates either await trial or sentencing for a crime, or serve relatively short sentences. Prison refers to a longer-term facility where inmates serve out a Prison sentence, usually of a year or more, for their crimes. Prison sentences are meant to punish criminals, protect the public, and serve as a deterrent to criminal behavior. There are approximately 2.3 million inmates in more than 3,000 jails and more than 2,000 prisons in the United States.

Most Jails are county or local government facilities. A Lockup is a particular type of Jail that serves as a temporary holding facility, often attached to a Police Department or Sheriff's Office, which houses suspects while they await bail or transport to another Jail.

Prisons can be categorized by level of security: minimum, medium, or maximum. Minimum Security Prisons allow inmates considerable daily movement and are intended for non-violent criminals and inmates who pose little risk of escape or threat to Prison staff or other inmates. Medium Security Prisons are somewhat more restrictive facilities, but still allow for daily movement and house inmates in dormitories instead of cells. Maximum Security Prisons are reserved for the most violent offenders and those who pose the highest escape threat, and these facilities place the greatest restrictions on inmates. Inmates are housed in cells and have limited opportunities to interact. Maximum Security Prisons typically feature high walls topped with razor wire surrounding the compound and armed guards in observation towers.

At the state level, Prisons are usually run by a Department of Corrections. Federal Prisons are the responsibility of the Federal Bureau of Prisons. While most Prisons are owned and operated by government agencies, many Prisons have been privatized. Private Prisons are owned and operated by for-profit companies under contract with government agencies, though oversight of Private Prisons remains the responsibility of government.