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What is the Difference Between Jail and Prison?

Have you ever wondered thought the words prison and jail are basically the same thing? Well, they are actually more different than you’d think. Below we will go over the difference between jail and prison and what types of prisoners will be put in both. If you're put into jail, you will be with an entirely different crowd than if you are in prison. It is usually much better to be in jail because of the seriousness of crimes that are in prison. Here are some of the similarities and the differences between jail and prison and what types of inmates will be put in both.

What is Jail? 

Mens and Womens socks

What is the difference between jail and prison? When you are being placed in jail, it usually doesn't last more than a year. This is where the convict will be put after the jail booking process. Anyone that was awaiting a trial for a misdemeanor and wasn't able to afford bail is held here. When the accused is sentenced to less than a year, they will stay in jail and not be sent over to the prison. Usually, are run and supervised by the local sheriff's department. While most people would rather be held in jail, some ask to be moved straight into prison. Jail is continuously changing due to the new members every day. It also causes inmates to have an inconsistent schedule and less food for their meals. Because of this, some prisoners try to plead that it’s against the 8th amendment. None of course succeed. 

Leg jail cell

What is Prison?

Prison is a little different and more confusing to explain because there are a variety of different types of prisons. For instance, there are state prisons and federal prisons, and then there are minimum security prisons, medium-security prisons, and high-security prisons.  All these depend on what types of convicts are in each. Below we will review the different types of prisons and what they do.

Federal Prison

Federal prison cell

Federal Prison is for any person that has broken federal laws such as bank robbery, political crimes, and white-collar criminals. These prisoners are more often to be put in separate prisons than rapists or murderers. 

State Prisons

Board of Governors flag

State prisons are for anyone that has broken any state laws like, assault with a deadly weapon, grand theft, rape, or murder. Committing any of these crimes means the convict will be spending more than a year and up to life in prison with hundreds of other prisoners just like them. A scary thought if you ask me. 

State building room

Minimum Security Prisons

Minimum security prisons are for inmates that have had good behavior in the previous medium or high-security prisons. They also hold prisoners with shorter sentences, a previously clean record, non-violent prisoners, or ones accused of a misdemeanor and serving longer than a year in prison. Minimum security prisons have a lot of extra resources that you wouldn't see in any of the other prisons. Prisoners often have access to the internet, team sports, and even more visitation rights with their family. Cells in a minimum prison often represent a college dorm rather than an actual cell. 

Medium security prisons 

Wilson football

These types of prisons are often for prisoners with a higher violence record or ones convicted of a felony. Medium security prisons usually don't have cells but instead, have housing dormitories that have a mixture of inmates combined. 

Maximum Security  Prisons 

Maximum security prison

These are where the prisoners with a higher likelihood of violence have put the ones that are the worst of the worst. Maximum security prisons are often the least full of all the prisons and are where the highest sentenced prisoners go. These are usually prisoners convicted of multiple counts of crimes like murder and rape. These are usually where prisoners that have attempted to escape or have escaped are put. Here, there is little to no free time and a higher chance of getting solitary. 


A very dark room


Thank you for reading “What is the difference between Jail and Prison?” and if you, a family member, or someone you love is in jail, Sportsman Bail Bonds can help. You can call us at 801-623-6877 or contact us online.