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Is there a Difference between a Jail and a Prison?

What are the Differences Between a Jail and a Prison?

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Yes, there is. Surprised? While most people use jail and prison interchangeably, it actually differs in a lot of ways, especially to most law enforcers. Basically, a jail is used by local jurisdictions like districts or cities, to detain people for short periods of time. On the other hand, a prison, which is sometimes referred to as the penitentiary, is governed by the state, and is used to confine convicted criminals for a longer duration. Both are under a larger penal system which includes other sectors such as crime labs, courts and law enforcement. In addition, here’s a detailed comparison of each:

• A jail tends to have fewer amenities due to the shorter period of confinement.
• Access to bathrooms are provided, socialization in common areas are allowed during certain periods of the day, food and water are supplied
• Most jails are meant to hold a smaller number of criminals
• Security is relatively lax, but the ones which are prone to violence have strict rules.
• Captives often include crime suspects, individuals awaiting trial, convicted people serving a short sentence, and others who haven’t paid bail.

• Amenities are much more extensive because most prisoners may be serving their lives behind bars
• These include common areas for eating and socializing, church and educational facilities which have classrooms and libraries, as well as exercise areas for prisoners
• Can handle a large number of prisoners which are usually segregated based on the type of crimes that the prisoners are convicted of, for safety reasons
• Other prison houses which have low security are sometimes mistaken for a hotel because of additional amenities provided for white collar crime convicts
• Due to the longer duration of imprisonment, most inmates share one cell with others

In terms of security, a prison is definitely far more secure than a jail house. This is because of the fact that there are more prisoners to handle, who are inevitably involved in violent attacks and are often tempted to escape. Prison facilities also hire people who are properly trained to work in a prison environment, including a board of governors designated by the state to supervise prison management. Whether it’s a jail house or a prison facility, both serve one main purpose – to bestow punishment and confinement upon those who break the law.

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