Many people in the United States do not know that there are differences between jail and prison and what they are. Local jurisdictions, such as counties and cities, use jails to detain offenders for short periods of time. A prison, or penitentiary, is controlled by the state, and is used to detain convicted criminals for longer duration (Schmallenger, 2011).
A jail is designed for short term offenders, and has more amenities than a prison. Jails house individuals who have been convicted to serve a short sentence, usually one year or less, detain individuals awaiting trial, waiting to pay bail or denied bail, and detainees held on suspicion of committing a crime. Most jails are designed to hold a very small number of criminals, and have low security when compared to prisons. As an example, the Durango Jail in Phoenix, Arizona, houses approximately 2,214 inmates. They provide a general-purpose day room area with seating areas, and a bathroom area with sinks, toilets, and showers, and have two large outside areas for recreation. The jail also includes a medical clinic, chapel and education classrooms where inmates can attend scheduled religious and educational programs throughout the day ("Mcso", 2013). Jails play an important role in the criminal justice system, and without them, there would not be a place to hold these short term inmates and offenders.
A prison is much larger than a jail, and capable of handling far more prisoners. The prisoners are typically categorized and separated on the basis of the types of crimes that they have been convicted of as a safety precaution, and there are three types of prisons: minimum security, medium security, and maximum security. Minimum security inmates often have private rooms and have the ability to walk around more freely, as well as commissary visits to purchase candy and tobacco. Medium security prisons are more dorm-like and have walled recreation areas. Maximum security prisons have more...
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