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A federal prison is operated under the jurisdiction of a federal government as opposed to a state or provincial body. Federal prisons are used for convicts who violated federal law (U.S., Mexico), inmates considered dangerous (Brazil), or those sentenced to longer terms of imprisonment (Canada). Not all federated countries have a legal concept of "federal prison".


There are no federal prisons in Australia.

The vast majority of criminal prosecutions in Australia – even if they have been investigated by the Australian Federal Police (AFP) – take place under State/Territory law, rather than the federal Crimes Act. However, some charges punishable by imprisonment are stipulated by federal law, pursued by federal Directors of Public Prosecutions and trials take place in a Federal Court building – which for practical reasons is usually that closest to any vital witnesses.

People remanded for, or convicted of, criminal charges under federal law are held in correctional facilities controlled by the government of the State or Territory in which the court proceedings will, or have, taken place.[1] Following a conviction, the receiving prison is located in the same State/Territory as the court in which the trial occurred. However, interstate transfers of prisoners, including federal prisoners, do occur, for various reasons.


The Brazil federal prison system (Sistema Penitenciário Federal) was implemented in 2006 based on the provisions of the 1984 law "Lei de Execução Penal". It receives the most dangerous criminals who would be disruptive in state prisons.[2]


In Canada, the Correctional Service of Canada operates federal penitentiaries, which house inmates with sentences of two years or more; provincial prisons are responsible for those with shorter terms.[3]


The prisons in Germany are run solely by the federal states, although governed by a federal law.


The federal prison system in Mexico is run by the Secretariat of Public Security and receives prisoners sentenced and being processed for federal crimes.[4]


All penal establishments in the Russian Federation are governed by the Federal Penitentiary Service.[5]

United States

The Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP), established with the passing of the Three Prisons Act of 1891, is responsible for the administration of federal prison facilities in the United States, as well as the custody and welfare of federal inmates. The BOP also provides researchers with background information and statistics regarding the Federal Prison System.[6]

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