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Differences Between Jail And Prison

There are two main differences between jail and prison, the length of time and the type of conviction.

There are two main differences between jail and prison, the length of time and the type of conviction. Mainly, jail is used for short-term confinement and prison is for longer sentences. 

Jail is typically a place you wait for your trial to begin as it is run by local law enforcement. There are a few scenarios where you can serve your sentence in jail versus prison. If you have already been to your court hearings and been sentenced to your punishment and it is less than a year, it is very possible you may serve your time in jail. 

Prison is reserved for more serious offenses and felonies. Some reports say that in order to go to prison, you have to be convicted and sentenced to serve for over a year. It could be as close as a year and a day, and that would still be considered long enough to go to prison.

Here are a few more differences between jail and prison. 


Jails typically have small opportunities for inmates while they are there. These programs give inmates something to do to stay out of trouble and allow them to maintain or build skills they can utilize upon release. These activities also lower the risk of a return visit. 


Prisons are operated by the Federal Bureau of Prisons or the state government. They are higher security facilities and designed to hold inmates for a longer period of time. People that have committed serious crimes or felonies are usually held in prison rather than in jail. 

Prisons have different levels of security and custody types. There’s minimum, medium, maximum security, and solitary confinement. Halfway houses are considered minimum security level, and it is usually reserved for those with good behavior or people who are almost done with their prison sentence. 

Prisons may have slightly better living standards because it is designed to contain people for longer amounts of time. Some people even request to be confined in prison rather than jail, especially if they are repeat offenders and have seen which side of the fence the grass is greener on. 

Jails have a few rehabilitation options like those mentioned above, but prisons have many more options for activities and general life improvement endeavors. 

What Are Your Rights?

People in jail and prison experience a loss of some rights, such as rights of freedom and things of that nature. This is because people that have been convicted for their crimes are usually being punished for the rights of others they violated. 

Despite this, inmates do still have some rights. Here are a few rights that inmates have versus what they don’t have. 

Inmates have basic human rights, the right to visitation, and the right to be treated humanely. They also have the right to not suffer cruel and unusual punishment, to have access to courts, to have access to medical care, and to not suffer from racial discrimination or sexual crimes and harassment. 

The right to the freedom of speech is limited for inmates, things like mail may be opened by the jail system to make sure no contraband items are being given to the inmate. 

Call ABC Bail Bonds

There are many differences between jail and prison, and we can help you regain your freedom. Call (713) 222-6222 to get in touch with us if you have a loved one in jail. We work hard around the clock to make sure we are available to get you out of jail. ABC Bail Bonds knows the process and can work with you to get your loved on out of jail quickly. 

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