How are jail and prison different?

On Behalf of | Jan 4, 2023 | Criminal Law |

Incarceration for a criminal conviction can happen either in jail or prison. But many people do not understand the difference between these two types of facilities.

Jail and prison are not the same. In addition, sentencing guidelines will usually stipulate where the judge should send you to serve your time, so where you go often depends on your charges.

About jail

Jail is generally where you would go for lower-level crimes. Most people in jail are there on sentences of a year or less.

The local government generally runs these facilities. They get funding locally as well, which means they may not get much. The facilities may not be well maintained and could lack some features often found in prisons. They may also have fewer employees, which means there are often not a lot of activities for prisoners and most of the time will be spent in one area of the facility. However, because most people are not there for a long time, this is usually not a major issue.

About prison

Prison is run by the state or private companies. These are generally bigger facilities. They have more room to house more inmates and more employees to allow for additional activities. Since people in prison may be there for decades, these facilities usually will offer a range of things to do. Prison is more like a home than jail because of the lower turnover.

Prisons have more funding. This allows for more updates and the ability to provide more for prisoners.

Despite the differences, both jail and prison are difficult places to be. Neither offers luxury accommodations, and they can be dangerous places to be.

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