Jail vs Prison: Whats the Difference?

Jail vs Prison

Did you know about 25% of the entire world population of people who are incarcerated are in the United States?

It’s a pretty wild statistic when you think about it. But what you may not know is the difference between jail vs prison. What makes them different?

In this guide, we’ll walk you through the differences between each! Read on!


Jails typically operate under a county sheriff’s jurisdiction. They don’t hold as many people as prisons do.

When it comes to different types of jails, there are actually several. There is one category which is a small local jail. This typically holds people for a few hours or a few days before they go to a larger jail or to prison. This is also where temporary holdings overnight may occur.

A city jail is a larger jail that holds people from all over the area.

However, because jails are designed for smaller days, there is inadequate medical care and a lack of nutritional food fed to the people who are in jail. There are also many limitations to movement and exercise as well as a lack of outdoor time. This can actually convince people to plead guilty to move to prison which doesn’t always bode well for the person.

Who Goes to Jail

So how goes to jail? Typically, jail. is for people who have a misdemeanor conviction for something.

On the other hand, some people in jail are innocent people being held before a trial that do not have any prior convictions. Some of these people cannot afford bail or have no one to come get them.


Prison is where people go when they are accused of much larger convictions like a felony conviction. Most prisons are larger than jails and hold more people as well.

Surprisingly, many prisons are actually privately owned rather than owned by the federal government.

While no one wants to go to prison, prisons usually hold more services to prisoners than jails do for their detainees. There are some education courses as well as other courses that prisoners can or have to opt into.

Shockingly, prisoners also have more freedom to move about. Sentences are much longer, so they go through their days doing jobs for the prison. They also spend some time outdoors in the recreation area to get fresh air during the day.

These services are optimal for the prisoners so that they do not deal with more frustrations, lack of movement, or anything else that typical jails do.

Jail Vs Prison

When it comes to jail vs prison, there are some staggering differences. The differences range from the population, the type of charges the people are accused of, and who owns the facilities.

Did you enjoy learning about the differences between prison vs jail? Check out some other similar articles on our site to learn more!

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