William Young and Associates Blog

What is the difference between Jail and Prison?

Posted by William Young | Jan 22, 2019 | 0 Comments

Jail and prison are ideologically the same thing: to take away the privilege of freedom. If you have been found guilty of a crime, and your punishment entails serving jail or prison time, then you have lost your privilege to freedom. You will be placed in a facility that restricts your access to society. 

The difference however between jail and prison depends on three main factors,

  1. Length of confinement
  2. Severity of crime
  3. Personnel

If you are placed in jail you are serving a shorter sentence (less than 1 year), have been convicted of a misdemeanor crime or were placed on probation in a felony case, and will be in a facility that is ran by local law enforcement; generally the county sheriff's office.

If you are placed in prison you have been convicted of a serious crime (a felony) and will be serving a longer sentence (in excess of 1 year). Prisons are operated by state governments (The Idaho Department of Corrections) or the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP).

If you visit each of these places (like I have many times) you will see immediately that jail and prison are very different places. While jail is by no means a happy place to be, prison is far more serious.

About the Author

William Young

Idaho Criminal Defense and Trial Attorney. I was admitted to the Idaho State Bar in May, 2014, and for the next 4.5 years I practiced as part of Peterson Lawyers with the father-daughter tandem of Chuck Peterson and Courtney Peterson. They were great mentors to me and I still consider them among...


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