Back to Top

What is the difference between county court and prison?

 

  •  Jails are locally operated places of incarceration — usually the county runs the jail.
     
  • Prisons are operated by the state government, or by the federal government (The Federal Bureau of Prisons).
     
  • A person who is being held in custody before a trial/has not yet paid bail/was only recently arrested will be held at a local jail, not in prison.
     
  • Jails are also a place for people who have been convicted of relatively minor crimes. A jail sentence is less than one year.
     
  • Defendants who are convicted of state crimes will serve their time in a state prison. Those who are convicted of a federal crime will serve their sentence in a federal prison.
     
  • Jails don’t have many amenities for people serving time there, since they won’t be there for very long (although a jail sentence can seem like a very very long time). A county jail may have a work release program and services to combat substance abuse and address vocational needs of its inmates — or it may provide only the basic necessities of housing, food, and safety.
     
  • Prisons often have work release programs, a halfway house service, classrooms for vocational training, and recreation and entertainment facilities.