The Differences between Jail and Prison

Jail and prison are two places you would never want yourself, or a loved one, to end up. It is a common mistake to believe jail and prison refer to the same institutions. It is true that they are quite similar, but at the same time, there are a number of differences that separate them from each other.

The main difference, first and foremost, is the purpose they serve, and who they serve. Jails house two types of people:

• Defendants who are unable to post bail but have yet to be convicted because they are still waiting for trial,
• Convicted individuals who are serving a sentence of 1 year or less.

Prisons, house criminals who are serving sentences longer than 1 year.

Local governments or sheriff departments run and operate jails whereas prisons are operated by state and federal gov...