Fundamentally jails and prisons are the same in that most are secure facilities that house individuals who are thought to have committed a crime or convicted of a crime

250 words each Question

Question 1.  Fundamentally jails and prisons are the same in that most are secure facilities that house individuals who are thought to have committed a crime or convicted of a crime. Locally, most jails are county jails with some municipalities having a jail as well. Prisons are state or federal facilities. While jails and prisons are similar, their purposes differ significantly.

Local jails house individuals arrested for committing a crime(s). They are transported to jail by an area law enforcement agency where they are booked and confined in lieu of a bond. Just about all those arrested are allowed to post bail while some of the more serious offenders and those unable to post a bond must go before a judge for arraignment within a determinant amount of time typically 48 hours. During the appearance, the judge will advise the offender of the charges they are accused of and those that do not have a bond will be provided one by the judge. Those that have the ability to post bail will do so while those that cannot stay in jail awaiting trial. Local jails are meant to house individuals who are awaiting trial or are serving a short sentence that does not require incarceration in prison. There are many more people in prisons on any given day, but there are 18 times more individuals that pass-through jails in a year’s time Copp and Bales (2018). With an often-changing population, jails are routinely faced with issues that most prisons are not. Jails are faced with transporting those incarcerated to and from court proceedings, medical facilities, and assessing new arrivals on a moment’s notice. Jails have programs aimed at addressing an inmate’s needs, but most are not very extensive due to the relatively short stay. Pretrial incarceration is often thought unfair as those without the means to post a bond remain in jail awaiting trial while those with money are released pretrial after posting a bond.

Prisons are either state or federal. They house individuals who have been convicted of a crime that is worthy of the punishment of imprisonment usually longer than a year. Offenders are delivered to prison after conviction and sentencing by a court. State prisons house those convicted of state crimes in state courts while federal prisons house federal prisoners sentenced in federal courts. Prisons consist of the most secure maximum-security federal prison to a relatively insecure state facility that houses nonviolent prisoners that are nearing the end of their sentence. Prisons are better able to assess the individual needs of an inmate and then provide programs that are aimed at rehabilitation primarily because of the longer term of incarceration. Over the years, prisons have evolved from establishments of punishment to institutions with an investment in programming relating to academics and reentry Phelps (2011). Prison employees consist of correctional officers tasked with overseeing the daily activities of the inmates to program staff that offer the services aimed at rehabilitation.

In considering all of the differences between jails and prisons, both are thought to provide crime prevention, punishment, and rehabilitation by incarcerating individuals prone to commit crimes then rehabilitate them.


Copp, J., & Bales, W. (2018). Jails and Local Justice System Reform: Overview and          Recommendations. Future of Children, 28(1), 103–124.

Phelps, M. S. (2011). Rehabilitation in the punitive era: The gap between rhetoric and reality in U.S. prison programs. Law & Society Review, 45(1), 33-68. doi: 

Question 2.  All across America citizens move in and out of jails every day.  For most their stay in a jail is short lived.  Jails are designed as a type of holding facility for citizens working their way through the court process.  When a law is violated and there is probable cause to make an arrest a law enforcement officer can opt to take the violator to jail.  Once at jail they are processed and they could be release on their own recognizance with a court date to appear before a judge at a later time.  If their crime is serious enough or if there are other pending criminal matters such as probation or parole holds then they many have to stay in jail until an arraignment hearing, which is when a judge first looks at the basics of the probable cause and decides if the case has merit or if the citizen can be release until their preliminary hearing.  If they judge orders they citizen be held in jail till the preliminary hearing, which could take years some times, then it becomes the responsibility of the jail staff to accommodate their stay.  A preliminary hearing is the citizens first ability to truly defend themselves with witnesses and evidence.  The prosecution also presents their case for the guilt of the citizen.  

The judge again decides if the case against the citizen will go forward and if they are to be remanded into custody i.e. jail.  The wait for a trial may take some time so the remanded citizen will have to again, spend time in jail.  Once the trail is concluded the citizen is either found innocent or guilty.  If found guilty then they must await sentencing, which usually happens in a relatively short period of time, to see if they will be sent to a prison or serve their sentence in a local jail.  Depending on the severity of the crime will often determine where the convict spends their sentence (Luallen, Gaes, & Cutler, 2019).  Jails are increasingly used for convicts serving sentences for lesser crimes or shorter sentences.  Prisons are used for convicts serving sentences for more serious crimes where safety and security are a concern.  The convicts history as it relates to gang involvement, or sexual assault, and more violent felonies are considered.  Within the jail setting the staff must daily move all the incarcerated citizens around for their court appointments, visitation, and medical appointments.  The buildings used for jails are often located near or attached to the court house for ease of movement.  

When a convict arrives at prison there is a distinctly different tone set.  Prisons are usually setup with high fences surrounding them to keep citizens out and convicts inside.  The prison staff are generally more professional and career oriented toward the profession.  There is an emphasis on rehabilitation inside prisons with classes geared toward higher education and substance abuse counseling (Davis & Carr, 2019).  A new convict at a prison will be evaluated and housed based on needs and history.  A federal prison is somewhat different, but also the same in many ways.  The federal prison system has more drug related convicts whereas state prisons have more violent crimes.  This is related to state crime statutes that organize how violent crimes are charged at the state level verses the federal level.  All levels of jails are prisons must deal with different demographics.  Different genders must be kept separate  


Davis, C., & Carr, D. (2019). Legal and policy changes urgently needed to increase access to opioid agonist    therapy in the United States. International Journal of Drug Policy, 73, 42–48.    

Luallen, J., Gaes, G., & Cutler, C. (2019). Estimating Prison Stays Among Current Prison Populations.   Criminal Justice Review, 44(2), 119–147.  

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