Imprisonment vs. Jail, or One and The Same?

I am officially filling out the eQIP and wanted to address a question in Section 22 (Police Record).

In the Conviction Details section, the form asks, “If the conviction resulted in imprisonment, provide the dates that you actually were incarcerated.”

My sentence included 15 days jail with work release, as well as 15 days of in-home detention (also with work release). Do these qualify as imprisonment? In the legal sense, perhaps yes, but in the criminal sense, prison versus jail are two different animals.

I will of course disclose the event either way (as it was part of the sentencing box), but I want to ensure I answer this question in the spirit of the form/what the investigators would consider an honest answer.

Many Thanks.

Yes, you were imprisoned. Being sentenced to confinement, whether it be prison or county jail is considered “imprisonment”.

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As I have said more than one time here . . . These aren’t trick questions. You were in jail; you were imprisoned. It doesn’t make a difference what it says on the sign outside. “Mercer County Jail”, “Folsom County Prison” . . .

First and foremost I appreciate the clarification.

However, there is a difference between jail, prison, incarceration, and imprisonment in legal terms. While this may not apply to the form (and as I mentioned, I am not trying to dodge the question, as my record speaks for itself), ask a judge what the difference is and see how it relates to the terminology on the form (and moreover as I have discovered, how the eQIP interprets it’s own question).

In legal terms, a jail is for temporary or short term housing generally up to and including ONE YEAR sentences (non concurrent), versus a prison sentence for lengths of time exceeding one year.

While the term imprisonment can be used synonymously with incarceration, it implies the latter, not the former.

The form actually goes both ways, this validating both interpretations. If you check either box for length over one year (or not less than one year) the imprisonment box requires a length of stay longer than one year. If you don’t, it allows for my situation, which was in/out the same month.

So snide remarks aside, it now appears in both the sentencing part of my form as well as the individual question. In my case it’s neither here nor there, it’s duplicative.

Forms are legal documents, and definitions of words do matter…hence the question.

Actually . . . I don’t believe this to be true. There are differences between the facilities used to house those with sentences of less than one year and one year or greater. Generally, if you sentence is less than one year, you will be incarcerated at the county level. One year or longer and you will be moved to a state run facility.

These facilities may be known as jails, prisons, work farms or anything else. If you serve time at any of them, you have been incarcerated.

Well at any rate it is neither here nor there…(pun intended)

Afraid you are wrong. Just because jail doesn’t have prison in the name doesn’t mean you weren’t imprisoned (aka held in captivity). Just answer the question truthfully and move on.

I don’t need to ask a judge, you should, because his/her answer would be consistent with mine. Answer yes to the question and move forward.

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Based upon how you seem to want to downplay your IMPRISONMENT, gives me pause as to what else is in your background that I as an investigator need to be concerned about.


Here is my working definition on the difference between the two: Jail used in the lightest sense possible implies arrested and put in a room with bars or solid door and tiny window measuring 6X9 with a toilet…but leaving that night or the next morning on own recognizance to see a judge at a later date. You were still in jail. Spending 2 weeks in Jail,in my definition changes to imprisonment. In the military we had a mix of “pre-trial confinement,” and “convicted and sentenced” prisoners. They shared the same showers, toilets, meals and living space. One was pre judged…the other post judged. In rare cases they were not convicted and released stripes intact. In the vast majority of cases they left minus any and all rank, unit patches etc. After serving a conviction. Since you were sentenced and served time I would clearly say you were arrested, charged, convicted and served a sentence of 15 days. I think it is hair splitting and will look like you are trying to obfuscate the situation. Humble pie, owning it and freely discussing it is the best path. Let the BI person know it all, and let the adjudicator decide.

It sounds like you are talking about the difference between being “held” and being “imprisoned” . . . The first doesn’t even require or always result in charges. The second is the result of a conviction.


Exactly. And in that case specifically…I would say there is a difference between seeing the inside of a prison cell…and being imprisoned, post conviction. To list it any other way would come across as not being forthcoming. Your mileage may vary; but I suspect we are in concurrence.

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Just to close this one out, I definitely see I was splitting hairs in my original post. Per the well-founded opinions expressed here, and as makes sense of course, I disclosed in multiple locations, to include the imprisonment question (and in the sentencing box as well).

I own my past, and even if I didn’t, it is a matter of public record. I also have nothing to hide from investigators. Per some more pointed and direct comments here, just because I want to minimize it personally for my own edification has no bearing on the investigation or my need to disclose everything completely and honestly.

Thanks all for the input.