California Prisoners Can Pay for Better RoomsBy: Mike Tuttle - July 28, 2013
WTKR reports that some inmates in California prisons are getting much nicer accommodations than others. This preferential treatment is happening for a simple reason: they are paying for it.
A jailhouse in Fremont, California was built with the intention of being used for minimum security inmates from the county jail to stay and do landscaping and other chores. But it never got used. So the $10 million dollar facility stood empty, unused.
Jail officials came up with an idea to revitalize the money pit. They started charging prisoners to stay there.
The secret its that, although it is certainly a real jailhouse, with standard issued mattresses, locked doors, shared showers with minimal privacy, etc. But this jailhouse is small, with far fewer inmates than standard county accommodations. There are also other niceties, such as HD televisions in each room, with remote controls.
People convicted of misdemeanors who have to do a small bid of jail time can get a judges approval to stay in the smaller place. They can then pay $155 a night to stay in a much safer, smaller environment away from the usual jail population.
“You do get cable TV, but you don’t get a warm cookie on your bed,” says Lieutenant Mark Devine, of the Fremont Police Department. “The only other thing you’re really paying for is the smallness and the quietness of the facility.”
At $155 per night per inmate, Fremont has turned this bad investment around. The jail is being called pay-as-you-go. Officials insist this is not about having built a nicer jail for people who can afford it, but simply a matter of making a return on an investment for the taxpayers.
“There is a cost to government. And that cost, where appropriate, should be borne by the people using the program or facility, or what not,” says Devine.