There are many different types of prisons and where an offender ends up may well depend on their sex, age and the offence they committed. Different types of prisons are managed by different organisations - for example, public sector prisons will be managed by the HM Prison Service whilst other prisons are contracted out to commercial organisations to be managed.
Most prisons will be given a category which shows the severity of the crime that was committed. These range from Category A (highest security) to Category D (least security). These categories can be applied to different types of prisons - common examples here include closed, semi-open and open prisons.
- Closed prisons offer the highest levels of security although the security offered may vary within the prison itself with some areas marked as high security for dangerous offenders who could be a risk to the public if they escaped.
- Semi-open and open prisons are designed to cope with offenders who are viewed as being low risk and security here will be lower. These prisons also give prisoners some freedom and they may sleep in a dormitory rather than a cell.
Offenders aged under 21 (known as young offenders) may be sent to specialist institutions with varying degrees of security depending on their actual offence and their age. So, for example, some young offenders may be sent to a secure children’s home run by a Local Authority, some may go to Secure Training Centres and others may go to Youth Offending Institutions.
Finally, some offenders may be offered the chance to go to a resettlement prison towards the end of their sentence. These prisons are designed to help them cope with life after their release and, although they are still in prison, they may be able to leave the prison to go out to work before returning every evening.