Jail vs prison:
Jails and prisons are establishments where criminals are held in captivity as a means of punishing them for the crimes that they have committed. While there are many other words such as penitentiary, correctional facility, remand centre, detention centre or gaol that are associated to the field of law enforcement, jail and prison are two words that are often seen to be used synonymously as most individuals assume that they indeed stand for the same institutions. This assumption, however, stands corrected. Jails and prisons are different institutions that stand for different purposes and while there are certain similarities between the two, the differences between the two terms must be clearly understood as well.
A jail is an institute where people who have committed crimes against the law are confined physically as punishment for the wrongs that they have committed. Those who are kept in jails are individuals who are convicted for a short sentence, detainees, individuals who are considered as suspicious who are still impending trials. Jails are usually situated within the vicinity of a police station or the place of arrest. In jail, resources are limited. Even resources that are usually taken for granted such as food, space, commodities and even sanitary facilities are rather limited thus making jail an uncomfortable place.
A prison is a place where individuals who have been convicted of crime are confined physically as punishment for wrongs that they have committed for long periods of time. People who are thus confined usually serve life sentences or longer periods of years, typically for serious crimes. A prison is comprised of tight security and they usually serve as institutions of the state, designed to occupy legal penalties imposed by the state for individuals who have defied the law.
What is the difference between prison and jail?
Prisons and jails are both institutions that are designed for physically confining those who have committed crimes against the law and yet, the many differences that exist between them prevents them from being used as synonyms. The main difference between jails and prisons may be the fact that jails are intended for individuals who are convicted of short sentences or for those who are considered as suspicious and still awaiting trial or verdict. Prisons on the other hand are intended for individuals who have already been convicted and serving life sentences or long term sentences exceeding a year. Therefore, it becomes quite clear that while jails are for individuals who have committed minor crimes, prisons are for those who have committed more serious crimes.
Jails are normally located within the vicinity of a police station or the place of arrest whereas prisons are located separately, away from the place of arrest. Also, jails are very small places while prisons are rather large and usually equipped with much more security than a jail. Also, the commodities and facilities of a jail are very much limited and the prisoners have to make do with minimum facilities such as limited space, limited commodities and limited facilities provided for the prisoners. On the other hand, a prison is much better equipped with facilities and other commodities to occupy its prisoners such as recreational centers, exercise areas and common areas with the intention of keeping the prisoners entertained during their long period of stay. Also, a prison consists of highly trained staff members who are responsible of looking after the prisoners whereas in a jail, one does not get individuals specially trained for such purposes.
Prisons are always provided with high security whereas the security levels of a jail are lesser when compared with that of prisons. And in a prison, the prisoners are placed in different locations according to the severity and the nature of the crimes that they have committed whereas one does not see this classification in a jail. Also, unlike jails that can be found in plenty all over the country, prisons are few, probably due to the fact that they are high maintenance whereas a jail is a small place that can be managed quite easily. However, in prisons, prisoners often gain rewards for good behavior where their term may reduce at times whereas in jail, individuals receive short term rehabilitation sessions with the aim of rehabilitating the individual so that he or she may not commit the same crime again.