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What's the difference between jail and prison?

Biloxi, MS |

I know jails are smaller, but there must be other major differences?

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Attorney answers 1


"Generally," Jail is considered temporary holding, as opposed to prison that is where a convicted person serves their sentence. There are instances where one can be convicted and ordered to serve their sentence in Jail (these are usually the lesser crimes/sentences).

In either event, Jail is where a person is held until they have an opportunity to have their case tried or agree to a plea bargain, at which point, they are sentenced to prison.

In short, Jail is short terms whereas Prison is long term.

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I may add....county jail is a less violent place since most inmates are there for a short term or awaiting trial and prison is more violent since inmates have long sentences including "life". But here in California since the legislature signed the historic realignment bill, convicts convicted of the 3 non felonies...non-serious, non-violent, non sexual will serve their time in county jail instead due to prison overcrowding. There was this one person convicted of sales and transport of methamphetamine in Santa Barbara county, received a 23 year sentence in the Santa Barbara county jail since he was convicted of a non-non-non.