What’s the Difference?

What’s The Difference Between “Jail Ministry” and “Prison Ministry”?

Most people do not differentiate between the two.

Prisons are State or Federally run. Prison inmates have been charged with a crime, found guilty by a court, and generally are doing more than one year of time. They are assigned to specific prisons based on the length of their sentence and the type of crime committed. Most inmates after entering prison begin to settle down and start adjusting to prison life.

Jails are either city or county run. Jail inmates have been charged with a crime and if they are unable to pay the bond, they are held in jail until their court date when their innocence or guilt will be determined.

There’s 2.3 million inmates in jail and prisons in the United States on any given day. More than all other countries combined.Jails far outnumber prisons with at least a million of those incarcerated in jails.

Most inmates in jails have not settled down and their world is upside down. They do not know what is happening with their legal situation, with their families, with their jobs, and are overwhelmed by the situation they suddenly find themselves in. They are desperate and are making excuses and blaming others. They are looking for help from family and friends but communication is difficult when they are locked up and in many cases, family and friends have been used and abused in the past and now are reluctant to help.

Both jails and prisons are a mission field. But sometimes these differences between jails and prisons make jails a “very” fertile mission field to plant the seed of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Many think mission fields are far away but most of us have one in our own back yard!

Tom​ Shuford

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