The words jail and prison are not interchangeable terms, though many use them as such. While it is true that the two have similarities, they also have basic differences, starting with the length of time that inmates are required to stay.

Short and Long Term

Jails are less serious than prisons in terms of how long individuals must stay within their walls. Jails are run by county sheriff departments and inmates are sentenced for shorter time periods, often for misdemeanor convictions. Others remain there while awaiting trials. In New Jersey, the maximum jail time allowed is 364 days, but there are cases when misdemeanor sentences run consecutively, increasing this time.

People who commit more severe crimes and receive sentences for a year or more are sent to prisons, run by the New Jersey Department of Corrections or the Federal Bureau of Prisons. Many of those in prisons have been convicted of felonies.

Basic Rights and Different Programs

Jail and prison inmates have certain rights, including not having to experience cruel and unusual punishment, racial discrimination, or sexual crimes; they have rights to humane treatment, medical care, and access to the court system. They are also allowed visitors and have limited rights to property possession and free speech.

Jails are generally less dangerous than prisons, since those in jails usually have not committed crimes as serious as prisoners. Jails also provide educational, vocational, and substance abuse programs, as well as work release opportunities designed to help individuals improve their situation once they are released.

Prisons also provide programs to help inmates, which depend on whether the inmate is in minimum or maximum security. There are community restitution centers, work release programs, and halfway houses designed to meet these needs. They are more likely to become available as an inmate’s prison term nears its end.

Plea Deals

New Jersey laws specify a plea deal referred to as 364 days in County Jail as a condition of probation. This is an option for those who committed crimes that might not be severe enough for state prison. This plea can be a condition of probation, and judges may sentence the person from one to 364 days within a country prison with probation, or the defendant can be given probation only, without prison time.

On the other hand, some inmates would rather stay in a prison than a jail because prisons are used for long-term stays, and often have better facilities and programs than their counterparts. Repeat offenders that are familiar with the system may prefer prison time followed by probation if this is made available. Jails have people constantly coming in and going out, so it is hard to maintain regular schedules and an acceptable standard of living.

It is important to know that the websites of the Federal Bureau of Prisons and New Jersey Department of Corrections allow access to prison records, which can harm a person’s future job prospects and other facets of their post-incarcerated lives.

Haddonfield Criminal Lawyers at Aita Law, LLC Protect the Rights of Those Convicted of Crimes

If you or someone you care for is facing conviction for any type of crime, reach out to an experienced South Jersey criminal defense lawyer at Aita Law, LLC. Call us today at 856-287-7800 or complete an online form for a free consultation. Located in Haddonfield, New Jersey, we represent clients throughout South Jersey, including Cherry Hill and Camden County.