Rich People in California Get Special Luxurious Jail Cells

I suppose nothing about our criminal (in)justice system should surprise me anymore, but the brazenness of this story still does. In several California cities, people wealthy enough to pay for it can stay in luxurious jail cells when they commit a crime — even if they kill someone while drunk driving.

The family of one Seal Beach man paid over $72,000 for an upgraded cell, away from the general population, while he served 2-years for killing a classmate after crashing his car while driving drunk.

Called “pay-to-stay,” the cells can be found in Seal Beach, Anaheim, Arcadia, Burbank, Glendale, Huntington Beach, Pasadena, Santa Ana and Torrance, at nightly rates of $127 to $143. In some cities, the non-violent offender’s cell doors are not locked, and the prisoners are free to come and go to their jobs on a daily basis.

In Anaheim, inmates in the city’s pay-to-stay jail program are able to check out their own DVD players for their cell, and work out in a nice gym for a price.

The city of Fullerton offers one upgraded cell where inmates who can afford the $127 a night gets their own TV, a telephone in the cell, and a personal full-size refrigerator.

“Bottom line — if you don’t have the money, you’re not going to be able to stay,” explained Det. Laura Lomeli, who added that the cells are for “Good people who made a mistake, made a bad choice — and they have to pay the consequences.”

And by “good people,” of course, she means rich people. This is so blatant a violation of the Equal Protection Clause that it’s almost breathtaking that these cities could possibly think this is okay. Who the hell adopted this policy to allow this to happen? That needs to be found out, in every city, and those people need to be punished in any way possible (removed from office, fired from their jobs, etc). And a big lawsuit needs to be filed over it, immediately.

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Chiroptera

    Of course, the rabble is going to see these “country club prisons,” assume that murderers and rapists get it easy, and demand that conditions in the “ordinary” prisons be made even worse.

  • reddiaperbaby1942

    A hundred and fifty years ago, Dickens described exactly the same system in the Marshalsea debtors’ prison. That form of incarceration, like our criminal “justice” system, was based largely on economic inequality. What, if anything, has changed?

  • Scr… Archivist

    Aren’t prisons like this in Norway?

    …For most if not all prisoners?

    …On the government’s dime?

    It’s not these living conditions that are the problem, but the fact that they are available to a select few. How much would it cost to make this available to all prisoners in the U.S.? And how much cheaper would it be to significantly remove the societal conditions that foster crime in the first place?

    I also have to wonder if this is another example of avoiding taxation to pay for government services.

  • D. C. Sessions

    Ed, I’m pretty sure that those facilities are privately operated. The upgraded services are just part of the legal responsibility that the corporations owe to their stockholders, not any kind of State action.

    I can see a new business model for Hilton and Marriott.

  • grumpyoldfart

    people need to be punished in any way possible (removed from office, fired from their jobs, etc). And a big lawsuit needs to be filed over it, immediately.

    My prediction: No charges and no changes.

  • StevoR

    Well shee-it! Wghat would Sherif Joe Arpaio say / do?

  • The Other Lance

    Them’s that has the money get a different brand of justice from them’s that don’t. Always been that way. Will never change. :-(

  • http://en.uncyclopedia.co/wiki/User:Modusoperandi Modusoperandi

    This is so blatant a violation of the Equal Protection Clause that it’s almost breathtaking that these cities could possibly think this is okay.

    How’s it a violation? Poor people could pay for those cells too.

  • johzek

    Det. Laura Lomeli’s statement that “they have to pay the consequences” is quite apt in this regard. If one can pay enough (money in exchange for lesser consequences) then one need not “pay the consequences” in full (suffering or being punished for something) of someone with no money. It’s not a coincidence that these different meanings of the word “pay” are so intertwined.

  • D. C. Sessions

    One word: “affluenza.”

  • D. C. Sessions

    If one can pay enough (money in exchange for lesser consequences) then one need not “pay the consequences” in full (suffering or being punished for something) of someone with no money.

    It’s well-known that the Quality have much more delicate and refined sensibilities than the rabble. Where some street thug is barely inconvenienced by fifty lashes and fifty years at hard labor, simply being publicly shamed is more than enough punishment (and indeed, perhaps excessive) for one of their betters.

  • http://onhandcomments.blogspot.com/ left0ver1under

    Housing prisoners costs money, so yes. the wealthy should pay for their incarceration. But that doesn’t mean they should get ritzy cells. On the contrary, keep them in the same cells as everyone else and charge them an arm and a leg for a cramped 8×5 cell shared with another larger convict.

  • Alverant

    It would have to be part of the private prison industry. Do you think the state would spring for different kinds of cells people can rent? A business saw this as an opportunity to make money and as we all know, making money means you can do just about anything and you’d have the support of right wing politicians.

  • sylwyn

    A host of thoughts cross my mind with this one. Most of them resonating with what I think is the general consensus here, but there was a flawed, tangential, and random one in the mix.

    This almost is almost a ‘Secular indulgence.’

    “You pay us an ‘appropriate’ amount of money and we’ll reduce the penance you have to serve.”

    There is no point (that I’m aware of) to that observation. The practice and the reasoning used to justify it are repugnant and divisive. The private companies running these facilities are extortionists (those who can afford the spaces either pay up or get sent to places that scare the hell out of them) and dehumanizers (those who can’t afford the spaces will go directly to places that, at best, make modern airlines look like high end day spas).

    It merely struck me as an interesting thought I wanted to share.

  • jimfoley

    Modus’s comment brings to mind the quote from Anatole France that “In its majestic equality, the law forbids rich and poor alike to sleep under bridges, beg in the streets and steal loaves of bread”.

  • http://en.uncyclopedia.co/wiki/User:Modusoperandi Modusoperandi

    jimfoley, Anatole France (1844-1924) stole that from me.

  • http://www.gregory-gadow.net Gregory in Seattle

    You will have to imagine my surprise.

  • eric

    Do you think the state would spring for different kinds of cells people can rent? A business saw this as an opportunity

    Given the list of neighborhoods they’re talking about, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if this was initiated by public officials responding to citizen complaints/demands (rather than some business coming in and selling the idea). Many of these areas decided years ago to create their own police forces, crime labs, etc..

  • http://cycleninja.blogspot.com cycleninja

    And thus Neil Stephenson’s “Snow Crash” comes to life. SMH.

  • jahigginbotham

    @13

    Assuming you are serious, i posted links to 4 local cities (yes, i have emailed my councilperson’s representative) with details on their programs yesterday. But apparently the moderator(s) thought that was inappropriate.

  • http://en.uncyclopedia.co/wiki/User:Modusoperandi Modusoperandi

    jahigginbotham, comments that go in to moderation rarely see the light of day. Attribute it to incompetent rather than malevolence and you’ll be better off.

  • Childermass

    So how much does St. Helena cost these days?