Rules of Jail
What is Jail?
Jail is a space on the board of the Parker Brothers board game Monopoly, and probably the one space with the most complicated rules surrounding it. The Jail space is on the first corner on the board after Go, between the light blue and the purple properties. The space is divided into two distinct sections; the inner section is Jail itself and shows a sad little man behind bars, while the outer section is called "Just Visiting". The inner Jail section is for those players who have been sent to Jail for some reason, while Just Visiting is for players who land on Jail by a normal dice roll. Players whose tokens rest on Just Visiting may move freely come their next roll and receive no penalties of any sort.
Going to Jail
There are three ways a player can be sent to Jail:
- By rolling doubles three times consecutively during a turn. Upon rolling the third sent of doubles, the player does not move the number shown on the dice; rather, they move their token directly to Jail.
- By landing directly on the Go To Jail space, which lies on the corner of the board directly opposite Jail.
- By drawing a Community Chest or Chance card that instructs the player to go to Jail.
When sent to Jail, the player is considered to move directly to Jail, and will not have passed Go no matter their token's location on the board, thusly receiving no $200 Salary. The cards sending a player to Jail state this explicitly as, "Go to Jail. Go directly to Jail. Do not pass Go, Do not collect $200." When sent to Jail, a player's turn ends immediately.
Getting out of Jail
Upon the player's next turn after arriving in Jail, they may make one attempt to get out of Jail. There are three methods to get out of Jail:
On each turn in Jail, the player must either attempt to roll doubles or pay the fine to get out of Jail. If the player pays the $50 fine or plays a Get out of Jail free card at the beginning of their turn in Jail, they move their token to Just Visiting, roll the dice, and begin to play a normal turn. It is important to note that when a player successfully rolls doubles and escapes from jail, they immediately move the number of spaces shown on the dice; but do not get an additional roll, even though they threw doubles. It is also important to note that once a player has rolled the dice to get out ouf Jail, they may not pay a $50 fine or use a Get out of Jail free card on the same turn, excluding the third roll; rather, they immediately end their turn. On a third failed attempt to roll doubles, the player must immediately pay a $50 fine or play a Get out of Jail Free card and move the number shown on the last throw of the dice.
Being in Jail
While in Jail, a player may conduct normal business of buying, selling, and trading property with other players, buying and selling houses and hotels, collecting rents on properties they own, and even buying and selling a Get out of Jail Free card.
Variant Rules of Jail
Several house rules and rule variations can affect the behavior of Jail. Note that none of these rules may apply in official tournament Monopoly play.
Variations on getting out of Jail
- Variant execution of doubles: upon a successful attempt at throwing doubles, the player moves their token to Just Visiting and immediately rolls again. This roll is used for the number of spaces moved; if the player rolls doubles on this roll, the player gets another roll, as a normal throw of doubles. Note that under this method, it is possible for a player to roll doubles three times consecutively on the turn they get out of Jail on and go directly back to Jail; the first roll to escape Jail does not count towards the three consecutive rolls of doubles.
- Variant execution of unsuccessful rolls for doubles: upon the third unsuccessful attempt at throwing doubles, the player immediately pays a $50 fine or a Get out of Jail free card and moves their token to Just Visiting; however, the player waits until their next turn to move.
House Rule on Jail: Maximum Punishment
Under the Maximum Punishment house rule, players in Jail may not collect rent, buy or sell buildings, participate in auctions, or mortgage properties. Players in Jail may only make trades with other players who are in Jail or who rest on Just Visiting. In one variation of Maximum Punishment, a player may immediately pay $100 upon being sent to jail to have their token placed in Just Visiting, thus avoiding going to Jail entirely. ("Good lawyers are expensive.") The Maximum Punishment rule turns Jail into a punishment, rather than being merely a safe haven.
House Rules which otherwise affect Jail
- Dice Control: Players rolling a one using the one-die Dice Control rule go directly to jail for making an "impossible" movement. Players rolling using the product of dice Dice Control rule who roll higher than twenty are sent to jail for "speeding", while those who roll one are sent to jail for making an "impossible" movement.
- Tax Man: the Tax Man token does not go to Jail when it lands on the Go to Jail space.
- Double Board: when playing using the Double Board rule, players sent to Jail go to the Jail space on the board their token most recently occupied.
- Start at Corners: when playing with the Start at Corners rule, players who start at Go to Jail do not start the game going to Jail.
- Doubling Up: when playing with the Doubling Up rule, multiple tokens may rest on the Jail space.
Strategy of Jail
Early in the game, it is best for players who are sent to Jail to escape as quickly as possible, so they can buy as much property as possible while it is still available. Later in the game, when moving about the board becomes more dangerous, it is advantageous to stay in Jail for longer periods of time, to avoid paying rent. Note that players still must attempt to roll doubles on every turn in Jail when they do not pay the $50 fine. Staying in Jail later in the game is generally not advantageous when playing under the Maximum Punishment rule.
Because of their proximity to Jail, the Orange properties (and to a somewhat lesser extent the Purple and Red properties) are quite often landed on. Owning a monopoly of these properties is thus particularly advantageous.