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.