Jails and prisons from the outside perspective seem to have the same meaning. Although jails
and prisons are a part of the criminal justice system correctional system, the fact is jails and
prisons are different. The jail system is a short-term facility where inmates are confined until
their trial date. State and Federal prisons are long-term facilities where inmates are confined after
The roles and functions of jails throughout history set the standards for jail. An inmate is
taken after they have been arrested for committing a crime. Jail is a short-term location for
inmates who are awaiting trial or sentencing. Inmates sentenced to twelve months or less serve
their time in jail. Jails are owned and operated by the states local government or the sheriff’s
office. “The first jails were created in England and they were called gaol” (Seiter, 2011,
p.72). Early jails had terrible conditions such as filth, no medical care, and poor food. There
were times when large numbers of inmates were contained in one large room. “Jails were used to
house displaced persons, the poor, and the mentally ill because of the vagrancy problems during
the fourteenth and eighteen centuries” (Seiter, 2011, p.72). In 1773, John Howard was the
sheriff of Bedfordshire. During his inspection of the local jail John was surprised by the horrible
conditions. To find examples of prisons that could be replicated in England, John Howard visited
other European countries. John Howard along with members of the English House of Commons
drafted the Penitentiary Act of 1779. A reformatory regime that required inmates to be confined
in cells unless they were working in common rooms, secure and sanitary, systematic inspections,
and abolition of fees were the four requirements created from this act for English prisons and
Jails have an important role in corrections; jails are also known as correctional centers. The
purpose of jail is confine criminals to punish them for their wrongdoings. Criminals must be held
accountable for their own actions, the criminal’s punishment is determined after conviction. The
theory for incarceration is that if criminals are imprisoned they will not commit crimes. Being
incarcerated gives inmates the opportunity to evaluate their actions to make wiser decisions.
State prisons are operated by the state; state prisons are prisons that confine inmates that have
committed state crimes or crimes committed in that state. Every state has its own penal code.
When an inmate is serving more than one year they are contained in a state prison. Robbery and
sex crimes are examples of state crimes. Federal prisons are prisons that confine inmates that
have committed federal crimes. Federal prisons are operated by the Federal Bureau of Prisons.
The Bureau of Justice Statistics states inmates confined to federal prisons are the legal authority
of the federal government.
Jails and prisons classify inmates by security levels. It is essential for each inmate to be
assessed and classified into the appropriate correctional setting. If prisoners were held in a prison
without concern for classification there would be a several concerns. Jails, state prisons, and
federal prisons purpose is to confine and rehabilitate criminals. Institutional misconduct, prison
violence, over crowdedness, and prison escapes are a few concerns. Inmates are separated
by the seriousness of the crime committed, previous records, and violence history. Security
levels are physical features that jails, state prisons, and federal prison have in place to control the
behavior of inmates and prevent them from escaping.
Jails have security levels that inmates are evaluated and confined to. The...