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Conway Criminal Law Blog

What Is the Difference Between Jail, Juvie, and Prison?

If you or your child is facing a criminal charge, knowing the difference between jail, prison, and juvenile detention – or juvie – is important. If this is the difficult situation you find yourself in, protecting your rights from the outset is key, and working with an experienced South Carolina criminal defense attorney is advised.


Jail is the facility where the accused are housed while they await trial or another form of case resolution. Jails generally house fewer inmates than prisons do, but there are more of them – and they’re typically run by the county. Jail sentences – when the person has been convicted and is serving their time – are typically limited to a year or less. Those who serve their time in county jail rather than prison usually have misdemeanor convictions – rather than felony convictions.


Prisons tend to have larger inmate populations than jails, and they’re generally run by the state or federal government. Usually, inmates in prison are serving sentences for crimes they’ve been convicted of, and the crimes are usually felonies.

South Carolina prisons also offer programs that are designed to assist in the rehabilitation of inmates who qualify that include opportunities for all the following:

Like jails, prisons also offer work programs for those inmates who qualify.

Juvenile Detention Centers

While both jail and prison are designed to punish adult offenders, juvenile detention facilities are designed to rehabilitate young offenders in a safe environment where they can learn the life skills and societal values that support productive lives. Juveniles – those who are younger than 17 years old – are generally not arrested but, instead, are taken into custody.

There are certain crimes that only a child can commit, and juveniles are often taken into custody based on such crimes. Prime examples include:

When a child goes into a juvenile detention center, there must be a detention hearing within 48 hours in family court.

The laws surrounding juvenile detention are complex, and if your child is at risk of being taken into custody or is already in the system, it’s time to consult with a dedicated criminal defense attorney.

An Experienced South Carolina Criminal Defense Attorney Is on Your Side

The compassionate South Carolina criminal defense attorneys at the Law Office of Brad C. Richardson employ the full force of our imposing experience and legal skill in every case we take on, and we’re here for you, too. For more information about what we can do to help, please don’t put off reaching out and contacting us online or calling us at 843-488-4321 today.