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Differences between State Prison and County Jail

The difference between State Prison and County jail comes down to the definition of duration of the term. County Jail generally houses inmates that are serving time that is less than a year. Also housed in county jail are inmates that are awaiting their sentence, so they are currently making appearances in court and were unable to make bail. In comparison, State Prison is for inmates serving lengthier sentences on crimes that are more severe in nature.

For example, a person who has been charged with murder will be taken into custody and housed in County Jail. He attends a bail hearing and no bail is set, which means he will have to remain in custody because he is either a flight risk, or a harm to society, or both. During the course of his trial he remains in County Jail. He is later convicted and sentenced to 25 years to life in Prison. Then he will be transferred to State Prison to serve his penalty.

County Jails also offer and manage alternatives to jail such as work release programs, work furlough, house arrest, and private county jails where the person convicted can serve their sentences on weekends.

State Prisons offer programs for halfway houses and community restitution centers and are used to house inmates that have been convicted of the more serious crimes such as murder, and rape.

Because overcrowding is a problem in both county jail and state prison, both systems operate a good behavior program. Those who are on good behavior can have their sentences reduced or cut. County Jail inmates often end up having 30% to 90% of time taken off their final sentence. State prison inmates end up serving 50% of their final penalty depending on the seriousness of the crime.

California Alternatives to County Jail – Private Jails

If a person is convicted, a part of their final sentence may be to serve some time in Jail. Many of us have obligations to work and children, or even certain medical obligations that cannot be put on hold. In those situations and specific cases, the option of an alternative to jail may be available. One such alternative is to complete mandated time in a Private Jail.

A private jail is also known as a city jail and is generally a facility that works in contract with a government agency. While it is supervised and has the same restrictions on freedom as a county jail, it provides a much more relaxed environment. Private jails are cleaner and allow for private rooms. They also allow those enrolled to bring in laptops and books and things that are within reason. Some private jails also allow those serving time to not have to serve it continuously. For example, if someone is to serve 8 days in jail, they do not have to come in 8 days all at once. They have the option to serve 4 weekends and be free to return home on weekdays.

Private jails seems like the obvious alternative to serving a sentence in a county jail, however there are some drawbacks. For one thing, private jails are expensive. They can cost anywhere from $50 to $100 a night depending on the facility. Additionally, a sentence served in a private jail will not be reduced for good behavior, or good time credits. When a sentence is for, lets say, ten days, the person will serve the full ten days if it is served in a private jail.

Serving time in a private jail is not at the election of the sentenced person, it is only after the court has allowed them to do so. The person must qualify, and be granted the opportunity to do so by the Judge. If the crime that has been charged is a violent crime or the person is one that is a high risk to society, they will likely not be granted the option of private jail.

California Alternatives to Jail Time – House Arrest

Certain offenses will require mandatory jail time. Jail is a potential consequence for some less serious crimes that still warrant some time spent in jail, and are not as serious as offenses that require an extensive amount of prison time. When time spent behind bars is a year or less, it is served in a jail. When it goes beyond a year, it will be served in a state prison.

Many jail sentences, however, have the option of being completed in ways other than being admitted to a county jail. With the right argument and strong negotiation, an experienced Southern California DUI and Criminal Defense Attorney may be able to persuade the court to allow a person to avoid serving Jail time. One such way is through the alternative of house arrest.

House arrest is available in cases where the person requires minimum security, is a low risk and non-violent. As mentioned before, it would not be an option in cases where the sentence involves extensive jail time, which is often in violent cases such as homicide. A person who is granted the option to serve their sentence under house arrest is confined to their residence under strict conditions. The house arrest will restrict their freedom and lifestyle, but it will allow them to complete their obligations to the government in the comfort of their own home. House arrest, does in many situations allow for a person to continue working and attend other obligations that are vital to their life.

House arrest will be supervised by the relevant enforcement agency and it will be monitored by electronic surveillance, usually in the form of an electronic transmitter worn on the ankle. The purpose of the electronic transmitter is to monitor the person’s compliance and to assure that they are only leaving their home for approved tasks, such as work, rehabilitation programs or medical treatment.