Fresh List of Bureau of Prisons Inmate Capacities BOP and Private Prisons


Once upon a time, the BOP published the capacities of its prisons in the (once annual) “State of the Bureau.”  But the last time that happened was in 2000, with “State of the Bureau:  1999.”

Last week, I received an updated capacities list that is current as of August 27, 2013, and includes newish facilities like Aliceville, Alabama; McDowell, West Virginia; and Berlin, New Hampshire.  We can now also see the purported capacities at the private, corporate prisons also housing federal inmates.

Please note, this list shows two kinds of capacity:  “rated,” and “designation.”  According to BOP policy, “Rated Capacity is a measure of the capacity for which each DFCL was designed. . . . Designation Capacity is the equitable proportion of the inmates in a particular security level that each designation facility having that security level should house.”

So, “rated capacity” tells us how many inmates each prison was built to hold.  “Designation capacity” seems to tell placement officers how to keep the overcrowding rates spread evenly across the BOP nation.  You will see that designation capacities are sometimes greater than rated capacities.  This can reflect construction or remodeling that has happened since the prison was built.

Too often, though, those different numbers just show how more inmates can fit in the same space when the BOP uses bunk beds – or floor space.