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Jail and Prison

Despite the fact that such terms as “jail” and “prison” are frequently used by common people as synonyms, and the majority of the citizens do not consider them to be different, the representatives of law and order distinguish these places for confinement in regard to their roles. This is true that in both places, the individuals are deprived of freedom and are not able to have an ordinary way of life. However, the law enforcement claims that there are numerous crucial differences between the two institutions.


First of all, a jail is used on the local level; it is controlled by the jurisdictions in the countries or cities and is used mostly for short sentence. The average period of being placed in jail is approximately one year. The criminals that get there are usually those people who are considered to be suspicious and, in accordance with the law court, there is a special need to control their abiding-place. Apart from that, in jails, there are a comparatively small number of the criminals. The prisoners have to do some work and have relatively few amenities. They are provided only with the basic needs such as food and low level of security.

On the other hand, a prison is controlled by the state; it is used to sentence criminals for longer periods of time than jail. The prison does not have those people who are only considered to be dangerous or who could have broken the law; there are the criminals who have already committed a crime.

The most appropriate way to explain the difference between the jails and prisons is to set an example of the mentioned above. The North Broward Bureau is one of the five jails that are maintained by the Broward Sheriff’s Office (Cerrito, 2011). It provides the elementary services for the imprisoned and holds 1,200 criminals. The mission of this jail is to help people with mental problems. On the contrary, the Calhoun State Prison provides with the medium level of security; its main mission is to control the offenders and guarantee the public safety (Owens, 2012). This prison has some programs for education, whereas the jails do not have such. Nevertheless Calhoun State Prison is not an example of a huge prison, but it is considerably bigger than the North Broward Bureau.

One of the burning issues considering prisons and jails is their culture and subculture. In prison, both aspects of this social behavior demonstrate that the inmates there regard themselves to be the opposite side of the justice; the rules there force the criminals to feel isolated. One more aspect about the prison is that the criminals there usually think that people treat them unfairly, and such an attitude makes them avoid meeting the necessary legal needs. Jail culture and subculture is a little bit different. As the attitude in the jails is not so severe, the criminals are frequently out of control. For this reason, in the jails, people feel them free and do what they want. This behavior can be also characterized as violent and threatening. It even causes people’s deaths. Mentally ill criminals can attack the officers, escape from the correction-based programs, and harm many innocent citizens. The last aspect is that in the jails, the relationships between the prisoners are sometimes considered to be even worse. This causes numerous suicides.

However, the jails play a vital role in the criminal justice system. They ensure the safety for the ordinary people, control the suspicious criminals, and, in general, they are effective means of law and order enforcement on the local level. In this case, the role of community-based correction programs cannot be underestimated. The imprisoned people, both in the jails and prisons, can still be useful for the society. These programs help the criminals to develop the feeling of responsibility, to understand the need of helping, and to appreciate the labor.


Finally, there are several common things between jail and prison, but, from the standpoint of the law enforcement, they are completely different. The jails do not have so many amenities as the prisons have. The criminals are kept there for a short period of time, and the jail is not divided according to the type of crime.


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