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What Is a County Correctional Facility?

Those accused of crimes in a county may be held at a county correctional facility.
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  • Written By: Laura M. Sands
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 25 March 2014
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A county correctional facility, also known as a county jail, is a detention center where law enforcement officials hold prisoners accused of crimes within a county’s jurisdiction. These correctional facilities differ from state or federal prisons in that a prisoner is usually held there while awaiting trial or after receiving a conviction that is not accompanied by a lengthy sentence. Although housed separately, women, men and minors accused of breaking the law are equally subject to detainment in a county correctional facility.

A state with multiple counties often has multiple county correctional facilities. Immediately following an arrest, a prisoner may be held at a temporary jail or holding center. Laws may vary in different jurisdictions, but prisoners who must remain in custody while awaiting release, bail or a court trial are generally transported to a county correctional facility.

While many of the inmates housed in a county correctional facility are there for a brief period while legal authorities determine what happens next, some are sentenced to serve time in a county facility after a conviction. Convicts given lengthier sentences, life sentences or who are sentenced to death are ordered to serve time in a state or federal penitentiary. Female and male inmates are also assigned to different facilities.

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The inside of a county correctional facility is intentionally bare with only the basics, such as a toilet, a bed and a sink, available inside of inmate personal areas. The accommodations are not meant to be comfortable for inmates and, depending on the county, facilities may often be overcrowded. Inmates are given uniforms upon entering a county jail, and these uniforms are worn at all times while in custody to easily differentiate inmates from correctional staff members.

In addition to adults being held at a county correctional facility, juveniles found in violation of the law are also held in such facilities. While there, minors are required to attend school on the facility’s grounds, as well as participate in other organized activities. Unless special circumstances exist, juveniles and adults held at a county correctional facility are allowed a limited number of visitors during designated visiting days and hours.

During a stay at a county correctional facility, attempts to rehabilitate inmates are made by requiring strict discipline and behavioral codes at all times. Special programs, such as literacy programs, therapeutic group sessions and skills training, are also offered. Participation in such programs may be voluntary or may be ordered by a judge whenever such is deemed necessary.

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