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Difference Between Jail and Prison

prisonThere is not a major difference between jail and prison for a common man, but in the eyes of a lawyer two of them are totally different. A common man considers that the two terms are interchangeable or synonyms. Both are the places, in which individuals are physically confined and deprived of a range of personal freedoms. But the fact is that a jail is used for short term stay whereas a prison is for a long term stays. Jail is used by local jurisdictions in countries and cities, whereas prison is administered by the state or federal government.

People convicted for a short sentence or trials, detainees, suspicious people under trials are kept under jail. Jail has fewer amenities for its convicts as compared to a prison. It only provides the basic necessities of food, housing and safety to the prisoners. Jails operate camps, vocational trainings and other work release programs for the prisoners. Jails are within the country where the individual is arrested. Typically they are intended to hold persons for less than one year.

Whereas the prison is for long term convicts who have been tried and convicted of crime. It is normally located away from the place of arrest. There are few prisons as compared to jails. Prison has a tight security and more amenities for the people. It provides the basic necessities as well as exercise areas, common areas for socializing and educational areas too. The area coverage is also more than the jail. Prison has a specially trained staff and a board of governor to oversee the prison management.

A prison is divided on the basis of the type of crime, a person commits and he is placed accordingly, unlike in jail. Prison has work release centers, community restitution centers and other entertainment facilities for the prisoners. This prison system is a type of correction system arranged by the province or a state for the convicts.

Till the late 18th century, prisons were for the debtors who could not meet their terms and conditions and for those who were waiting for their death sentence. In early days U.S. prisoners were kept in isolation, later they were permitted to work together but in silence. At the end of 19th century prisoners were segregated on the basis of type of crime, age and sex. Rewards for good behavior were also given. In late 20th the offences related to illegal drugs were increased and so the number of prisons too. Whereas in jail prisoners are for short period of time and given short trainings or counseling. Some local jail also provides drug treatment and education programs.

Hence, we see that both are a part of large penal system which includes all aspects of law and justice. A jail is like a rehabilitation centre for the people who are under trial and are not convicted. They are given a chance to improve and resettle themselves after their bail. Whereas a prison is a penitentiary, used to house convicted criminals. They are penalized for long term imprisonment or life sentence.

1. Jail has lesser amenities than prison.
2. Prisoners are kept in jails for shorter duration while they are kept for a longer duration in prisons.
3. Prison is divided on the basis of crime committed while the jails isn’t.

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