Difference between Prison and Jail in California

All-Pro Bail Bonds Locations MapAlthough a jail and a prison in California are both places where people are held who have been convicted of crimes or who are awaiting trial, there are some differences.

When someone is arrested for a crime, they are often placed in jail until trial unless they are released on bond. Those who receive short sentences for the crime are normally held in jail instead of being sent to prison. The maximum sentence for someone in jail is usually less than a year. Prisons are where people are sent if they have been convicted of a crime and sentenced to a term of more than one year or perhaps a serious offense that would classify as a felony. The jurisdiction also plays a part in whether one is sent to jail or prison. Jails are normally for people who have been convicted of crimes in that county. Each county usually has at least one jail. Prisons hold people from across the United States with larger prisons that are secluded holding serious felons like murderers. There is normally at least one prison in each state, often more so that the prison system is not overcrowded. Some prisons are set up for specific criminals such as those who have been convicted of probation violations. There are also prisons for women and men to be housed separately. Federal prisons are for criminals who have been convicted for crimes like bank robberies and racketeering.

Jails are typically run by the local sheriff’s department, and a prison is run by the state correctional department. The security at a prison is more intense that at a jail. Someone who has been in a prison in another state might be taken to a county jail until they can be transported to a different prison. One of the most noticeable differences between jails and prisons is that people in jails can be on a work release. There are items that inmates can purchase in both locations, but while in jail, inmates can work on road detail or in the kitchen so that they can earn money to be used to purchase necessities. Prisons offer a similar system, but inmates can also take classes to get their GED or a college degree. Time can be earned for good behavior that is taken off of the sentence so that the inmate can be released early. Visitations are allowed at both facilities, but prisons often allow face to face visits where the inmate and visitor can sit at a table together. Inmates at a jail can only have visitations through a clear piece of Plexiglas while using a telephone. While in prison, inmates have opportunities to go outside on the yard to play basketball or lift weights. Inmates in jail usually don’t have this option.

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