The words "jail" and "prison" are commonly used interchangeably. But equating one with the other isn't correct—jail and prison are very different things. Jails and prisons are two separate institutions in the United States, and the two major differences between them are the length of time an inmate stays and who is in charge of the facility.
If you get arrested, you'll be taken to a jail, which is run by the county sheriff of your county. Most inmates do not spend longer than a year in jail. If you're convicted of a more serious crime, which can occur in a courtroom or because you take a plea deal with a sentence that exceeds one year, you'll go to prison. Time spent in prison can range from a few years to life. Unlike the jail run by the county sheriff, prisons are run by state government or federal government. To learn more about jail and prison, watch the videos below.