When a criminal defendant is convicted of a crime, in certain situations, they are sentenced to serve some amount of time in imprisonment. This imprisonment can occur either in jail or in prison. However, is there a difference between a jail and prison? To learn the distinction, either scroll down to read the article, or watch this short video if you’re in a hurry.


Generally, jails are used to detain individuals for short periods of time. They are typically run by local counties and staffed by the county sheriff. As a result, jails are normally rather small since they only service the county in which they are located. For the most part, any individual that is arrested for a crime will spend some amount of time in jail either being detained or just simply going through the booking process.

Typically, jails are occupied by individuals who have just been arrested, are waiting to post bail, or are unable/not allowed to post bail and are awaiting trial. Since most jails are focused on short-term imprisonment, they are small in nature and lack the resources and facilities commonly associated or required for longer detainment.


Prisons are facilities that are focused on long-term imprisonment of individuals. Generally, prisons are run either by the state or the Federal government due to the security required to keep the inmates imprisoned. Because of this, prisons are much larger than jails and house many more inmates.

These inmates are convicted of a wide variety of crimes and have sentences ranging from a year up to life sentences or the death penalty. Typically, prisons contain features like hospitals, cafeterias, and limited activities or amenities for the inmates.

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If you or someone you know have been charged with a crime, it is important to consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney that can help zealously defend your. Contact Us at Minick Law, P.C. for a free consultation on your case.