I have been a state of CA corrections nurse in mental health for the past eight years. Here is what I can share about jailhouse nursing based on what I have seen from admissions to the State of CA from county jails and other nurses that have actually worked in county jail systems. The nurses I have known that have worked at county jails were county employees not contractors. For me, the most important aspect is custody which equates to safety. i have been told that the level of custody is not the same as in the prison setting. My guess would be because the jail population is awaiting trial and may not have prior crimes. Custody levels in state prison are based on an inmates crimes and their behavior, i.e. staff and peer assaults, while incarcerated. If the custody protecting the medical provider is not strong, the provider can end up in a position where they are not protected by an officer with pepper spray, a baton, and a badge. An example of this is Martinez, CA county jail. An admitting RN was hit over the head with a desk lamp by the inmate during the admission process. She later succumbed from a brain bleed days later. If you had experience around inmates or with custody situations, you may not be so threatened. I always feel safer in prison where all inmates are in cuffs, bellies, and ankles based on their custody, i.e. danger threat. When doing admissions to the state hospitals from the county jails, i was appalled at the condition of some of the inmates. This is not to be blamed on the medical staff from the facility the inmate came from because they have the right to refuse. I take exception to the jail transfers that came in COVERED with lice which is a public health issue. Some mental health patients in jail would be brought up to competency if their psych meds were administered while in jail. it would save the state alot of money but it appears that administering these is not a priority except for one county, Sonoma, which did a great job. Based on those two negatives, it seems the medical staff in the county jails are either too overwhelmed or uninvolved. Both are negatives to me. Lastly, you will get inmates detoxing from or continuing to be on street drugs which makes it dangerous for staff. Lots of drugs in prison and almost every inmate has some kind of a weapon hidden on them. If you are in CA, I would recommend working for the Dept of State Hospitals first and then CDCR. The pay is outstanding, the benefits packages are worth $35K annually, and there is a pension. But there is no free lunch and working with this population of inmates as well as the very inexperienced (most have only worked in the state system where there is very little accountability) and entitled management within both systems can be a hardship making every dollar compensated a dollar earned.