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About Jails

Jails and Prisons

There is much confusion about the difference between jails and prisons. Listed below are documents and links that describe the differences between these two institutions.

How does jail medicine differ from prison medicine?

There's a lot of overlap between prison and jail medicine, but here are a few (generalized) differences between the two.

Jeff Keller,

New York Times: Prosecutors and Safety
In a letter to the editor of The New York Times, Keith Barton (COCHS) and David LaBahn (Assn. of Prosecuting Attorneys) respond to a Sept. 29 column by David Brooks headlined The Prison Problem which suggested that district attorneys are overly aggressive in their prosecutions and, further, that prosecutors have misaligned incentives because they “tend not to have to worry about the financial costs of what they do.” Barton and LaBahn write “this portrait ignores the connections that prosecutors across the country have formed with community groups to address public safety.” The letter continues: Collaborations between prosecutors and community groups are yielding important results. Together, we can divert people away from jails, improve access to health care and address the root causes that lead to criminal behavior. Read more...

Health Coverage and Care for the Adult Criminal Justice-Involved Population

This article was published by the Henry J. Kaiser Foundation. The authors provide a thorough overview of the difference between jails and prisons. The article also includes demographic data as well as information on the affects of health reform on the justice involved population.

Alexandra Gates, Samantha Artiga and Robin Rudowitz

Health Intake, Assessment, and Routine Care Processes in County Jails

This paper explains the difference between jails and prisons and then proceeds to describe various health care procedures that occur within a jail setting. The flow charts below detail a step-by-step description of these procedures.

Flow Charts
Intake Process
Sick Call
Discharge Planning

Dr. Keith Barton, Medical Director of COCHS
Michael Dubose, CEO of COCHS
Edward Harrison, CCHP, President of the National Commission on Correctional Health Care