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April 28, 2007

Stay at the Cali Crowbar Hotel for only $2460/month

California has luxury jails for criminals who can afford to fork over $82 a night in cash:

For offenders whose crimes are usually relatively minor (carjackers should not bother) and whose bank accounts remain lofty, a dozen or so city jails across the state offer pay-to-stay upgrades. Theirs are a clean, quiet, if not exactly recherché alternative to the standard county jails, where the walls are bars, the fellow inmates are hardened and privileges are few.

Many of the self-pay jails operate like the secret velvet-roped nightclubs of the corrections world. You have to be in the know to even apply for entry, and even if the court approves your sentence there, jail administrators can operate like bouncers, rejecting anyone they wish. [NYT]

You could rent an apartment in Manhattan for that kind of money.

Cali Crowbar rates range from a low of $75 to a high of $127 bucks, cash only, according the the NYT.

“I am aware that this is considered to be a five-star Hilton,” said Nicole Brockett, 22, who was recently booked into one of the jails, here in Orange County about 30 miles southeast of Los Angeles, and paid $82 a day to complete a 21-day sentence for a drunken driving conviction.

Ms. Brockett, who in her oversized orange T-shirt and flip-flops looked more like a contestant on “The Real World” than inmate, shopped around for the best accommodations,

“It’s clean here,” she said, perched in a jail day room on the sort of couch found in a hospital emergency room. “It’s safe and everyone here is really nice. I haven’t had a problem with any of the other girls. They give me shampoo.” [NYT]

The really horrifying thing is that the major "selling points" are human rights basics like cleanliness and personal safety.

I can't decide what's more disgusting, that the rich can buy special treatment or that the basics aren't guaranteed to every prisoner in so-called "custody."

Maybe California's regular jails are actually clean and safe, and the State is just making a lot of money off gullible rich people who assume that all prisons are like Oz, but somehow I doubt it...



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One justice for the rich and another justice for the rest has been going on for a long time.

But California may be more blatant about it recently.

Exactly. A difference in the treatment of the rich and poor in the crimianl justice is nothing new. But this is really in your face. I could hope that something so blatant will push people to action to create a more balanced system...but it's those with political voice (until they commit felonies, of course) that benefit from such a system.

As an aside: Lindsay you are so fast! I have this article open on my desktop to write about later but you beat me to the punch!

Yet another step on our long slow transformation into a third world country.

“The benefits are that you are isolated and you don’t have to expose yourself to the traditional county system,” said Christine Parker, a spokeswoman for CSI, a national provider of jails that runs three in Orange County with pay-to-stay programs. “You can avoid gang issues. You are restricted in terms of the number of people you are encountering and they are a similar persuasion such as you. [emphasis added]

In other words, on top of all their other problems, the pay-to-stay jails are racially segregated, and their operators admit it.

This is seriously fucked up. How is it even constitional?

'The Pasadena jail, for instance, tried to create a little buzz for its program when it was started in the early 1990s.

"Our sales pitch at the time was, ‘Bad things happen to good people,’ ”'

Even you humourless swine have to admit that this is funny.

Who would have thought that (moderate) affluence correlates with good behaviour?

Frank Rich's column today in the NYT is a commentary on the return of the Guilded Age: extreme rich getting richer.

From the story:
“The prisoners who are charged with nonviolent crimes and typically have no record are not in the best position to handle themselves in the general county facility”

Really. And us hoi polloi presumably are. Fuck the rich. I’ve worked years on fishing boats with accommodations considerably more Spartan than the one depicted in the photo accompanying the NYT piece: when was the last time little Ms. Trustfund woke up with the dead cockroaches she’d rolled over on in her sleep. And I was happy and grateful for the opportunity to be locked in a metal box with hostile deck apes, sharing a filthy head and eating bread that one literally had to shake the roaches off of to eat for three months at a stretch. It’s long, long past time to eat the rich.

Finally something we all seem to agree on. This is pretty messed up. Criminals are criminals regardless of the size of their bank account. There is no way anyone should be able to upgrade their stay from coach to first class because their crime "Was a minor one" or because "They had no prior record". Jail is bad for a reason and should stay that way. Criminals already have it far too easy.

Can you say Marshalsea?

This is reminicsent of the "sponging houses" of England, i.e. debtors prisons, where someone who hadn't paid a debt was held. They didn't have to be broke, just behind.

They had to pay for the privilege of being held as means of compelling payment.

And the more you had, the better your life. Family could move in with you.


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