Did you know that there are over 2 million people currently behind bars across the United States?

Whether it is based on pure interest or you have a loved one who is incarcerated, it could be of interest to learn more about what goes on inside the walls of a jail.

Here are the top three things you should know about county jails.

1. County Jails Are Different Than State Prisons

When people typically hear “jail” and “prison,” they think they are one and the same. After all, the end result is the same, isn’t it?

That would be wrong. There are different types of jails and prisons, each with its own purpose, ownership, funding, and structure. Among the key differences are the people inside them.

A county jail is a holding facility meant for people either awaiting trial or their sentencing. In addition, county jail is where people go to serve time for minor crimes and misdemeanors. County jail offers alternatives like work release programs, which allow inmates who are close to finishing out their sentence to find work while incarcerated.

State prisons, on the other hand, are for people who are serving out their sentences for more serious crimes and penalties. A state prison has varying levels of security. This reflects the severity of the crime and its sentence.

There are minimum security prisons all the way to supermax, which is among the most serious.

2. Visitation Capabilities are Limited in County Jails

If you or a loved one will be heading to a county jail, be aware of the limited visiting capabilities. You can still visit someone in county jail, but be aware that it will be behind reinforced clear glass. Often, you must speak through a telephone to speak with the individual.

County jails do not offer the ability to be in the same room for “contact” visitation. You cannot hug, kiss, or touch in any way the person who is incarcerated or visiting.

3. Living Conditions are Not Ideal

Lastly, a key fact to know about county jails is that they do not have ideal living conditions when compared to state prisons. Cells are often on the smaller side than a prison. County jails are more likely to be crowded than state prisons.

These differences are because of the fact that county jails are not meant for long stays. They are either awaiting a trial, or they are serving a short sentence. County jails also typically have fewer resources than prisons would.

Looking to Learn More About County Jails In America?

There are many different types of jails in America, and it never hurts to know the differences between them. We’ve highlighted some of the main differences between county jails, especially when compared to state prisons.

Interested in learning more about county jails and the justice system in general? Be sure to follow along for more articles. We cover everything from the incarceration system to law enforcement facts and more.