City jails in Los Angeles and Orange counties are offering the option for prisoners to ‘upgrade’ their prison cells.
Known as ‘pay-to-stay,’ prisoners pay an additional fee to receive more pleasant and safer cells. Even those convicted of serious crimes are not excluded from the upgrade option.
The start of such accommodations began due to overcrowding at prisons. Research shows that from 2011 to 2015, around 3,500 prisoners used the ‘pay-to-stay’ option in Southern California and during that time, the regions accumulated $7 million from the program.
Most of the people who did upgrade were arrested for DUIs while a small percentage were charged with violent or sex crimes. Some argue that this takes away ‘equal justice.’
Alan Wurtzel was charged and arrested for sexual battery in 2011. Wurtzel was originally sentenced to a year at L.A. County Jail and his victim believed justice would be served.
However, for $100 a night, Wurtzel was able to avoid county jail and was instead permitted to go to a city jail in Seal Beach with a flat-screen TV and a computer room. Jail records show that his sentence was also cut short to only 6 months with a total cost of $18,250.
The pay-to-stay programs offer different amenities and vary from city to city, with some offering refrigerators and shared common rooms.
Currently, 26 city jails throughout Los Angeles and Orange counties offer the ‘pay-to-stay’ programs.
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