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For $155 a night: a comfier jail cell

Should prisoners be able to pay to stay in a nicer cell?
Should prisoners be able to pay to stay in a nicer cell?
Vlad Karpinskiy/Flickr

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Have you ever stayed in a hotel that seemed more like a jail? Well, revenue-hungry Fremont, California is introducing a jail that’s a little bit like a hotel. ‘Pay-To-Stay’ is a new program that is offered to misdemeanor convicts who wish to avoid the rougher and more crowded county jails in Oakland and Dublin, and a night’s stay will cost you $155 a day.

It's still a jail where inmates are provided a cot, a blanket, and three meals a day. And these rates are not available to anyone with gang affiliations or a history of violent crimes; there is an application and a screening process. The Fremont facility was built in 2002 for $10.6 million, and city officials argue that the program will help the jail pay for itself.  

But the ACLU has other concerns. They argue that there should not be one form of punishment for those who can afford to pay and a different form of punishment for those who cannot.

What do you think of letting non-violent criminals pay to stay separate from the general population in county jail? Is this a program that you would like to take advantage of if convicted?

Scott Kernan, Former Undersecretary of Operations, California Corrections Department