Nugget of Knowledge: Jail vs. prison


(WYTV) – What’s the difference between a prison and a jail?

There is a difference, a large one.

The major differences are how long you’re there and why you’re there.

Jails are meant for people who are waiting for a day in court or who have been convicted of a crime but are serving relatively short sentences, say a year.

In that case, you’re in the county jail, or the police have picked you up and are holding you in their city jail.

So it’s all on the local level.

The state and federal governments run prisons. If you’re convicted of breaking state law, you go to a state prison. If you break a federal law, you go to a federal prison.

This country has 120 federal prisons, 400 state prisons and 3,800 jails.

There is one federal Supermax prison. It’s called the Administrative Maximum Security Penitentiary near Florence, Colorado. It’s said to be escape-proof and meant to hold the baddest of bad guys.

They include Unabomber Ted Kaczynski, Soviet spy Robert Hanson, 9/11 attack planner Zacarias Moussaoui and Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.

Women have separate prisons, and 2,000 babies are born in them every year. They stay with mom for 48 hours and then go to a relative.

What’s a penitentiary? 

That’s just another name for a prison; the two are synonyms.

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