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U.S. Marshals Service

Fact Sheets  

Prisoner Operations Division

  • The U.S. Marshals Service houses and transports all federal prisoners from the time they enter federal custody until they are either acquitted or convicted and delivered to their designated federal Bureau of Prisons facility.
  • The Marshals Service assumes custody for all prisoners charged with a federal offense, no matter which agency made the arrest.

Prisoner Custody

  • The Marshals Service has more than 63,000 detainees in custody each day, housed in federal, state, local and private jails throughout the nation.
  • In FY 2010, the Marshals received 225,329 prisoners.
  • The Marshals Service contracts with approximately 1,800 state and local governments to rent jail space. On average, more than 80 percent of the prisoners are detained in state, local and private facilities — the remaining are housed in various Bureau of Prisons facilities.
  • Individuals arrested or detained for federal offenses are brought before a U.S. magistrate or district court judge for an initial appearance. After the hearing, prisoners may either be released or remanded into the custody of the Marshals to await trial. If a prisoner is later convicted, the Marshals deliver the prisoner to the designated institution to serve his or her sentence.
  • Detaining federal prisoners is challenging in its diversity and complexity. For example, the Marshals Service is responsible for:
  • Taking DNA samples of individuals arrested by the Marshals for an FBI database
  • Managing prisoners with terminal illnesses and contagious diseases
  • Deciding whether to grant the transfer of prisoners to state or local authorities when ordered through state writs
  • Preparing for the potential arrival of Guantanamo detainees into U.S. Marshals custody for their trials

Prisoner Medical Care

  • While state and local jails as well as Bureau of Prisons facilities provide in-house medical care to pre-sentenced prisoners, the U.S. Marshals Service must absorb prisoner health care costs.
  • In 2000, Congress passed an amendment to 18 U.S. Code 4006, which authorizes the agency to pay no more than Medicare payment standards when paying medical claims. As a result, prisoner medical care costs have been reduced by more than $442 million over 10 years.
  • A rise in diseases and medical problems such as cancer, AIDS, hepatitis and multiple-organ failure within the prisoner population has made the Marshals role in prisoner medical care more complex. In addition, the agency must protect its staff, other prisoners and the public from exposure to infectious diseases such as tuberculosis and staph infection.
  • U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps officers assigned to the agency provide assistance to districts dealing with prisoner health care issues.
  • A national managed care contract reduces district workload by transferring responsibility from the districts to the contractor for procuring, processing and paying medical and pharmacy services.


Office of Public Affairs
Revised March 18, 2011

usmarshals.gov is an official site of the U.S. Federal Government, U.S. Department of Justice