Difference Between Jail and Penitentiary

Jail and Penitentiary sound similar due to their job and facilities, but many differences make the two places different from each other. Jail and Penitentiary have different criminals. The punishments are different for criminals. Jail and Penitentiary are handled by a different government. Crimes define whether the criminal will be in Jail or Penitentiary.

Jail vs Penitentiary

The main difference between Jail and a Penitentiary is Jail keeps those criminals who are given punishment for fewer than one year, but a Penitentiary could be a place where criminals are given punishment for quite one year. Jail comes under government, but the state or federal takes care of the Penitentiary.

Jail and Penitentiary

Jail is perhaps the mildest detaining room of all of them. It’s the place where the convict is placed while awaiting his trial. Each cell holds about 20 men and ladies, many wearing their usual uniforms still with small wooden shackles on their wrists to keep them from slipping free easily or banging against each other during confinement.

A penitentiary may be a place where inmates are confined, usually for a set term of years, to be punished for the crime they committed. The word comes from the Latin “penitentiaries,” meaning “to atone,” which is the primary function of the penitentiary. The penitentiary system was developed by the French and became popular within us during the 19th century.

Comparison Table Between Jail and Penitentiary

Parameters Of ComparisonJailPenitentiary
DefinitionA criminal is taken to jail for the punishment of less than or one yearA criminal whose punishment is for more than one year.
Type of crimesLess severe crimesMore severe crimes
GovernmentLocalState or federal
Type of criminalsMinor crime criminalsMajor crime criminals
EnvironmentCrowdedProper with basic facilities

What is Jail?

Every day four trains are arriving at that jail heading towards Prisons 1, 3 & 5; therefore, prisoners 6-12 may only be detained when they have not arrived yet! If a prisoner misses any train, it could mean months away before he can go home again – which means even if you don’t arrive after hours, it’s still much harder to know how long your loved ones will stay behind bars than just knowing whether someone has made bail, etc.

Jail is synonymous with shorter detention times for a variety of violent crimes, from gang rapes to robbery. Some are treated as juvenile offenders and receive an adult’s sentence, but others get longer sentences because they appear less dangerous on trial.

The state may keep other prisons (such as juvenile prisons) open on short-term parole when they’re needed most and provide adequate transportation to facilitate their use by residents returning from a prisoner’s incarceration in an area where people are not arrested at random.

 “Prisoners” generally refer strictly to prisoners who’ve been imprisoned longer than 30 days and who have committed no crimes over this period. A person is considered under arrest once he has been made bail. Subjecting someone into custody with any criminal intent; subjecting another individual subjected himself to some degree of more serious crime.

What is Penitentiary?

A penitentiary is a physical structure designed to keep people inside. There are enough reasons to build a penitentiary, but the main one is to keep people who have committed crimes inside and to punish them for such crimes.

The idea of building a penitentiary has been around since ancient times, but it was during the 19th century that the idea started taking shape in America. The first modern prison was built in Philadelphia in 1829, and at that time, it had only 4 cells. Today, the trend of building and operating prisons is increasing with every passing year.

The United States has the highest prison population in the world. The US penal system has been criticized as too harsh and not especially effective at reducing crime. Research shows that the most successful states do two things: First, they spend money on education and social services rather than prisons.

Second, their politicians are willing to take on the tough job of addressing racial inequalities in the criminal justice system. Looking at the topic from a different angle, consider that several US states have a new revenue stream – they’re leasing out their prisons to private companies. The company pays for the construction and upkeep.

Main Differences Between Jail and Penitentiary

  1. A criminal is taken to Jail for the punishment of less than or one year, but Penitentiary is for criminals whose punishment is for more than one year.
  2. Jail keeps criminals or less severe crimes, but Penitentiary is for more severe crimes.
  3. Jail comes under local government, but Penitentiary comes under state or federal government.
  4. Jail is for minor crime criminals, but Penitentiary is for major crime criminals.
  5. Criminals in Jail are given minor punishments, but Criminals in Penitentiary are given punishments and then rehabilitation.
  6. Jail can be crowded, but Penitentiary has better facilities.


The idea of confinement and punishment was imported from France after their revolution. The institution is designed to isolate inmates from society, so they can reflect on their actions and become remorseful.

They have been repeatedly separated from families prior; children younger than 15 years old usually go home without parental contact or support throughout release, and there’s little chance.

‘I’m a prisoner who’s going to be in jail longer than he wants to go,’ said another man held at Miami-Dade Correctional Facility on Wednesday morning. The woman was carrying her two-month-old baby and other belongings when she heard police talking but did not see them until after they escorted her out. She then called emergency services, saying, ‘the guards were beating me.’

Other protesters told authorities that several people had already been taken into custody as others watched from behind barricades blocking roads leading home. A spokesperson with local law enforcement says no arrests have yet occurred by press time Thursday afternoon following an overnight protest organized through social medication.


  1. https://psycnet.apa.org/get-pe-doi.cfm?doi=10.1037/e557002006-001
  2. https://www.ncjrs.gov/App/abstractdb/AbstractDBDetails.aspx?id=138512
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