Apr 3, 2017
In California, some criminals can avoid the horrors of jail life – the overcrowding; the unsanitary conditions; the violent fights; and abuse by guards – but only those who can afford California’s “pay-to-stay” jails.
Like everything else in a market economy, the lucky – that is, the rich and connected – can shop around. The price per night ranges between a $25 “bargain-basement bed” in La Verne to a $251 bed in Hermosa Beach.
California’s “justice system” allows judges to send convicts to jails run by cities, instead of the state or county prison systems. So a convict with enough money can hire a lawyer who knows how to transfer the case to a judge willing to do that.
At least 26 cities in L.A. and Orange Counties offer pay-to-stay jail beds, and many of them actively look for customers. Seal Beach, a city of 24,000, even took out an ad in the magazine LA Weekly in 2013, asking, “Why spend your jail sentence of 365 days or less at county?” The ad then listed the “amenities” Seal Beach jails offered: flat-screen TV; computer room; cleanliness; new beds.
They even offer “work release” – which one ex-LAPD cop, sentenced to serve one year in 2012 for stalking and harassing his ex-wife, took advantage of. He spent the daytime hours of his jail time working as a security guard!
Authorities also didn’t seem to be too strict about what type of crime had been perpetrated, as long as the bill was paid for. Some pay-to-stay convicts in California had committed serious and violent crimes leading to severe injury or harm to another person, including robbery, battery, domestic violence and sexual assault.
In this rotten society, prisons subdue an exploited working class. But for people from the more privileged layers of society, who can’t buy their way out of serving time altogether – well, the authorities are ready to “work something out” for them!