The Real Difference Between Jail and Prison
Reader's Digest by Lauren Cahn
We tend to use the terms "jail" and "prison" interchangeably. And while both are legally sanctioned confinement facilities, they're not the same thing.
Both “jail” and “prison” refer to secure facilities that are legally permitted to deprive people within the criminal justice system of certain constitutional rights (such as the right to go where they want when they want). But under the law, they’re not the same thing. So what is the difference between jail vs. prison?
Jails are confinement facilities for people awaiting trial or sentencing. They’re usually run by local law enforcement and maintain only one level of security.
Prisons are confinement facilities for those who’ve already been convicted of crimes. Usually, prisons are run by the state or federal government (or a private company under contract with the government). Prison facilities are segregated by, and their physical design reflects, their security level (minimum, medium, or maximum); prisoners are assigned to a security level based on the crimes for which they’re convicted as well as other factors. And it’s not always effective—consider these
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