The Bikini Bottom Jail, also known as the Bikini Bottom Prison, is a governmental institution in Bikini Bottom that first appears in the episode "Hall Monitor." Its main purpose is to confine criminals as they fill out their sentences.
The building is two stories high, with an oversized ball-and-chain attached to it. The prison features a rock-crushing yard, a cafeteria, and the jail cell. The building is composed of metal and is sky-blue with a black roof, on top of which has a brown wooden sign hold together by two bamboo sticks that reads the jail's name in white text outlined by red.
The inmates do many activities, such as crushing rocks, lifting weights, and making wire coat hangers and license plates.
Despite "jail" generally designating a place of confinement for minor criminals and accused awaiting trial, there are instances below, under the "Inmates" section, of characters confined at the Bikini Bottom Jail after being convicted of a felony.
- A large pile of rocks which Mrs. Puff is seen smashing during the episode "Doing Time".
- A giant ball-and-chain attached to the main building.
- A seemingly bottomless extra security cell Plankton is seen inside in "Krabby Road."
- A coat hanger manufacturing facility.
- A safe that serves as an extremely small cell for Plankton, as seen in "Krabby Road."
- A cafeteria that serves chili.
- A water supply that supposedly contains no uranium. As Mrs. Puff says in the episode "Doing Time," "Crystal clear!" However, she might have been looking for a convenient way to finish her sentence, "no more uranium in the water," rather than, "no more you," when addressing SpongeBob.
- Clear-glass communication windows.
- A supply of lollipops, as seen in "Life of Crime."
- Apparently gender-segregated facilities, as noted by the lack of male inmates in "Doing Time"
- This building appears to be smaller on the outside than it is on the inside.
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- SpongeBob SquarePants has been in jail in three episodes. In "Life of Crime," he and Patrick mistakenly turned themselves in for "stealing a balloon." SpongeBob was confined for 90 days in "Driven to Tears" for ripping up Patrick's driving license (the charge was actually littering rather than the destruction of someone else's government-issued ID). SpongeBob was also confined in "Cave Dwelling Sponge" for property damage actually committed by Spongy Spongy.
- Patrick Star has been in jail in five episodes. His "sentence" in "Life of Crime" is mentioned above. He somehow thought he was the Tattletale Strangler and turned himself in again in "SpongeBob Meets the Strangler." He was initially held responsible for SpongeBob's littering in "Driven to Tears." He was found in prison at the end of "Good Ol' Whatshisname" for an unspecified charge. Despite his cellmate Squidward already serving a 10-year sentence for theft and being called a "convict" by Mr. Krabs, neither Patrick and Squidward were seen wearing prison outfits. He was confined in "The Executive Treatment" for corporate espionage (that he never actually committed).
- Mrs. Puff has been in jail in "Hall Monitor," "No Free Rides," "Doing Time," and "Summer Job." In "Hall Monitor" and "Doing Time," Mrs. Puff was sent to jail because SpongeBob acted recklessly under her supervision. In "No Free Rides," she stole SpongeBob's new boatmobile and crashed it into a police car. In "Summer Job," she was charged with littering.
- She is arrested (but not seen confined) in "Ditchin',""Patrick-Man!," and "Bumper to Bumper." In "Ditchin'," she had skipped jury duty. In the "Patrick-Man!" Patrick thinks she is breaking into a boatmobile, when in reality, she is trying to help one of her students who is locked inside and couldn't get out. Patrick throws a net over her and leaves a note that reads "Kops - This is boat theef." She is thrown into a paddy wagon, and one of the police asks if she remembers what a felony is. In "Bumper to Bumper," she had violated her parole.
- Squidward Tentacles is in jail in "Good Ol' Whatshisname" for stealing What Zit Tooya's wallet. He is also sent to jail in "Fiasco!;" the particular charge is never made explicit, but since his arrest followed lying to officers about disturbing noises, it was likely slander, obstruction of justice, or filing a false crime report. Squidward is also arrested (but not seen confined) for impersonating Squilliam Fancyson in "Professor Squidward."
- The Tattletale Strangler was in jail in "SpongeBob Meets the Strangler." He was wanted for strangling tattletales and littering.
- Sheldon J. Plankton was in jail in "Krabby Road." He had attempted to steal the Krabby Patty secret formula; this is his first time seen in jail. He was also arrested in The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie for turning most of Bikini Bottom's residents into his slaves, stealing Neptune's crown, and planting false evidence against Mr. Krabs; "Sweet and Sour Squid" for "causing a musical disturbance;" "Fiasco!" for art theft; and "Jailbreak" for breaking out of jail.
- Eugene H. Krabs was confined at the Chum Bucket being operated as a private prison on the behalf of the Bikini Bottom Jail, after he essentially assisted in jailbreak and violated the terms of operating his own restaurant, the Krusty Krab, as a private prison. Despite being arrested many other times, Mr. Krabs has not been seen incarcerated otherwise.
- So far, Sandy has only been arrested once, but has never been seen in jail.
- Season 8 is the only season where the jail does not appear.
- Gary the Snail is the only main character who has never been arrested, likely because he is an animal, even by the standards of the series.
- In "Summer Job," it is shown that SpongeBob teaches boating lessons at the jail, despite not having a license and repeatedly failing his boating test.
- A whale cellmate who looks similar to Pearl appears in jail in the episode "Jailbreak!"
- Bikini Bottom Jail is shown to be located near a cliff in "Driven to Tears" and "The Getaway."