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The Difference Between Jail And Prison In Colorado

On behalf of Dolan + Zimmerman LLP June 2, 2023

Have you ever heard someone say they are going to jail or prison and wondered what the difference between the two is? The differences between jails and prisons are important to understand when it comes to legal matters. Keep reading for an overview of the differences between jails and prisons.

What Is a Prison? 

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Prisons hold inmates who have been convicted of felonies. Prisons are often located in rural areas of the state, away from large population centers. 

In Colorado, the Department of Corrections (CDOC) is responsible for running all state prison facilities. There are two private for-profit facilities in the state. The primary difference between private and public prisons is that public prisons are owned and operated by the government while private prisons are owned and operated by corporations. 

Private prison companies such as CoreCivic contract with state governments to house inmates according to the terms agreed upon in their contracts. 

What is a Jail?

In contrast, jails are county-run facilities that house people who have been recently arrested are detained while awaiting trial or individuals serving misdemeanor sentences. Jails tend to be located nearby courthouses so that inmates can easily attend court hearings if needed. 

In Colorado, there are 64 counties each with its own sheriff’s department running its own jails. This means that every sheriff has different policies when it comes to inmate care including what they wear and what they eat.

Sheriffs also have the authority, within statutory requirements, to modify how much time an inmate serves. This is done through a system called “good time credit,” which rewards inmates for good behavior or work completed while in custody. Factors such as the type of offense and jobs held while incarcerated are taken into account when deciding on good time credit.

The Benefits of Hiring a Criminal Defense Lawyer If You’re Facing Incarceration

Being convicted of a crime carries significant consequences, including the possibility of imprisonment. If you’re facing criminal charges, hiring an experienced criminal defense lawyer is one of the best ways to ensure that you receive the best possible outcome.

Your Boulder criminal defense lawyer will be able to provide expert advice about how to proceed with your case and will help ensure that your rights are respected throughout the process.  

They can also help you understand the potential penalties for the crime you are accused of, as well as any alternative sentencing options that may be available. They can work with prosecutors and judges to negotiate plea deals or alternative sentences such as community service or probation. 

Criminal defense lawyers also have access to resources that could prove invaluable during your case—such as expert witnesses who can testify on your behalf, private investigators who can uncover evidence relevant to your case, and other legal professionals that will help them investigate and prepare the case. 

If you need help with a criminal charge, contact us today to schedule a free consultation.