What Are the Differences Between Jail and Prison?

Naperville criminal defense lawyers, criminal defense strategy, jail and prison, federal crimes, prison inmatesThe goal of a criminal defense strategy is to prove that the defendant is innocent. Sometimes, a defendant’s strategy successfully results in his or her charge being dismissed. In other cases, it results in the charge being reduced; however, the defendant still being found guilty.

Going to jail or prison is nobody’s goal. Yet sometimes it cannot be avoided. Although the terms “jail” and “prison” are often used interchangeably, they do not refer to the same facilities. Below are a few of the differences between jail and prison.

Jail is for Short-Term Stays

Jails are run at the local, county, and state level. They are meant to house individuals awaiting their trials and those serving shorter sentences, typically sentences of one year or less. Individuals who have been sentenced to prison may spend time in jail before being sent to their eventual facility.

Prisons, on the other hand, are operated at the state and federal level. Some are operated directly by the government and others are operated by private companies. Prisons house individuals serving long sentences.

Individuals convicted of state-level offenses are sentenced to state prisons, whereas individuals convicted of federal crimes serve time in federal prisons.

Prisons Offer more to their Inmates

Because prisons house individuals serving longer sentences, they have more programs in place for their inmates. These programs often include vocational training, continuing education that gives inmates the opportunity to complete their GEDs and even college degrees, and work programs. Generally, prison populations are more consistent than jail populations because of the length of inmates’ sentences. Life in prison can be less chaotic and more productive than life in jail for this reason.

In Both, Inmates Have Rights

Although incarceration is meant to be a punishment, individuals in jail and prison still have rights while they are serving time. While an individual is in prison or jail, he or she has the following rights:

  • The right to serve time without facing disparate treatment compared with other prisoners based on his or her race, religion, ethnicity, sex, or national origin;
  • The right to not be subjected to cruel or unusual punishment;
  • The right to accommodations for his or her disability;
  • The right to exercise religious practices and free speech as long as they do not interfere with his or her status as an inmate; and
  • The right to a minimum standard of living, such as access to clean water and medical care.

Work with an Experienced Naperville Criminal Defense Lawyer

If you are convicted of a criminal offense, you could be required to spend time in jail or prison. Although your lawyer will work hard to avoid this outcome for you, sometimes it is inevitable. When you are in this situation, you can prepare yourself for your incarceration to make it less stressful for yourself and your family. Contact our team of experienced Naperville criminal defense lawyers at Law Office of Glenn M. Sowa, LLC today to schedule your initial consultation with us.