Prison is no picnic. Despite what you might have seen in movies or TV series, or when you’ve heard from friends of friends about their cousin’s time behind bars, losing your freedom, perhaps your job and future employment possibilities, and contact with your loved ones can have lasting psychological and financial consequences. And, let’s face it — you’re probably not going to country club prison.

So rather than get your answers about incarceration from the entertainment industry, here is some info you can rely on concerning the biggest legal issues surrounding jail and prison.

1. What’s the Difference Between Jail and Prison?

While it may just seem like a lingo decision there is a legal distinction between the two – local jails are for sentences under one year, state and federal prisons are for longer stretches.

2. What Happens When You’re Booked Into Jail?

The process for “processing” will generally depend on whether you’ve been arrested for a suspected crime or you’re beginning a sentence following a conviction.

3. How Do Inmates Buy Things in Jail, Prison?

Capitalism doesn’t stop at the prison wall. Old school commissaries have morphed into modern tablets giving inmates access to email, music, and online shopping. And hacking.

4. How Dangerous Is Jail?

Personal safety is generally the first concern of many about incarceration, and the numbers, sadly, back that up. A recent study found 10 “serious assaults” per day in our nation’s prisons.

5. Who Gets Protective Custody in Jail or Prison?

To curb some of that violence, select prisoners are granted protective custody or housed separately from the general population. Who makes that decision and how?

6. Can You Transfer to a Different Jail, Prison?

And if the violence or threats are too serious, can you switch jails? What if you just want to be closer to family?

7. Can You Get Married in Jail, Prison?

While inmates do forfeit some legal rights upon incarceration, the right to marry isn’t one of them. But how do marriages and unions work behind bars?

8. Can Pregnant Inmates Be Forced to Give Birth in Jail?

While most jails and prisons have protocols in place or pregnant inmates, one Texas woman claims she was forced to give birth in her cell after guards ignored her pleas for help for two days. There are also tales of women being shackled while in labor.

9. How to Not Go to Jail

Not exactly a question, but it’s what we’re all wondering, right? And your best bet is often an experienced criminal defense attorney. Contact one in your area today.

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