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Joseph A. Lombardo

Jails and prisons, while they may seem synonymous, are different types of facilities. If you’ve recently been charged with a crime in New Jersey, it’s important to learn the differences and similarities between county jails and state prisons so that you know what to expect.

Generally, New Jersey county jails are where inmates await trial, and state prisons are where they serve sentences. Population demographics and security also tend to differ between state prisons and county jails. That being said, there are several similarities between jails and prisons. Inmates at New Jersey state prisons and county jails can receive visits from loved ones and purchase items at the commissary. They’ll also be given a work assignment and access to multiple educational and therapeutic programs at county jails and state prisons.

If you or a loved one has been charged with a crime in New Jersey, you need to hire a lawyer immediately. For a free case evaluation with the Atlantic City criminal defense attorneys at Lombardo Law Group, LLC, call us today at (609) 418-4537.

Main Differences Between New Jersey County Jails and State Prisons

The main difference between New Jersey county jails and state prisons is the reasons for inmates’ stays. County jails are often used as temporary holding facilities, while state prisons are where convicted criminals serve longer sentences. Because of this, county jails have different demographics and security levels than state prisons.

Length of Stay

Generally, county jails are used as temporary holding facilities for defendants awaiting trial. Because of this, you are likely to spend time at your county’s jail if you can’t post bail. On the other hand, New Jersey state prisons are where you will serve your sentence if you are convicted of a crime. That being said, depending on your sentence, you may serve it at a county jail. Jails are also used for many short-term convictions for minor offenses.

Demographics

Because county jails are where many defendants await trial in New Jersey, they can house male and female inmates alike. Although inmates are generally separated based on gender, there may be inmates of different genders at the same facility. This differs from New Jersey state prisons, where an entire population is of one gender.

Security

While New Jersey county jails are secure facilities, inmates generally have more freedoms than those at state prisons. Generally, the housing area of county jails is less restrictive than a New Jersey state prison, although some prisons are still more high-security than others. Restrictions depend on the specific county jail and state prison’s practices and inmate population.

Are There Similarities Between County Jails and State Prisons in New Jersey?

While there are definite differences between New Jersey county jails and state prisons, there are similarities. If you spend time at a county jail and transfer to state prison after being convicted of a crime, you can expect a few things to stay the same. For example, regardless of whether you are at a state prison or county jail in New Jersey, you will likely have access to a commissary and visitation. Inmates will also be assigned a work detail and have access to inmate programs at county jails and state prisons in New Jersey.

Commissary

Your loved ones can add funds to your commissary account, whether you are at a county jail or state prison in New Jersey. Each facility has its own methods for families to add funds to these accounts. Your Camden County criminal defense attorney can help your loved ones if they’re experiencing difficulties doing so.

At the commissary, inmates can purchase creature comforts to make their time at a county jail or state prison more enjoyable. For example, you can purchase snacks, shoes, magazines, and more using the funds in your commissary account.

Work Detail

Generally, inmates will be assigned a work detail whether they are at a county jail or state prison in New Jersey. Work assignments can range from kitchen duty to electrical work, from plumbing to groundskeeping. If you are only at a New Jersey county jail for a week or so, you may not be assigned work detail. However, it can take months for defendants’ trials to begin after being arrested. Because of this, you will likely be assigned a job while at a county jail.

Inmates at New Jersey state prisons are almost always assigned a work detail, as they have been convicted of a crime and are serving their sentence. Because these facilities are often larger than county jails, more jobs may be available to inmates at state prisons in New Jersey.

Visitation

Whether at a New Jersey county jail or state prison, you can receive visits from your loved ones and your Mays Landing criminal defense attorney. Each facility has its own visitation hours and protocol for families, which is important to keep in mind.

It is also necessary to note that your visitation privileges can be taken away under certain circumstances. Depending on the crime you are convicted of, you may only be able to receive periodic visits from your loved ones while at a state prison.

Inmate Programs

The New Jersey Department of Corrections is known for providing its inmates access to ample programs. During your shorter stay at a New Jersey county jail or while serving a longer sentence at a state prison, you can engage in various educational and therapeutic programs. Inmates who did not graduate high school can earn their G.E.D.’s while serving a sentence and opt into life skills programs that focus on things like parenting skills and how to successfully renter society after release.

County jails and state prisons in New Jersey also often offer therapeutic programs to inmates. These programs help inmates work through mental health problems and other issues, like substance abuse. Your Linwood, NJ criminal defense attorney may advise you to engage in inmate programs during your time at a county jail or state prison, as doing so can help reduce your sentence even after conviction.

Call Our Attorneys Today  if You Were Charged with a Crime in New Jersey

After being charged with a crime in New Jersey, it’s important to hire a lawyer who can help. For a free case evaluation with the Egg Harbor Township criminal defense attorneys at Lombardo Law Group, LLC, call us today at (609) 418-4537.

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