ROSEVILLE, CA - Some inmates are paying for jail and are being allowed to buy an upgrade to a nicer jail cell.
Some of these programs charge the same rates as 3-star hotels, but inmates shouldn't expect the same accommodations. In fact, supporters said the real winners are taxpayers, and one program has been operating successfully in Roseville for more than five years.
Roseville began their program back in 2007. Inmates pay $60 for each 12 hours they serve. The money off-sets jail operation costs. A judge can let a nonviolent criminal to serve up to 90 days in the Roseville jail, and they don't have to serve it all at once. They can take up to three times the amount of their sentence. For example, someone who has to serve 30 days can take up to 90 days spacing their sentence out over weekends and other days.
"It helps people to stay employed," Roseville Jail Commander Lt. Merv Screeton said. "They're able to come and serve their sentence at a time that allows them to keep their job, so they stay employed and can make their house payment, take care of their financial responsibilities, and also a lot of the people will sometimes be single parents."
One Roseville inmate who's serving time for DUI said he chose the program in order to work around his child custody schedule. The days he doesn't have his child, he spends in jail, where he's allowed to listen to music or watch movies on his iPod. However, he said he tries to eat before he gets there because he doesn't like the jail food.
One of the newest programs is a jail in Fremont where select inmates can pay $155 per night to avoid what could be a rougher time at jails in Oakland and other parts of Alameda County. However, it's only open to people convicted of misdemeanors, and they have to get a judge's approval first.
However, critics of "pay for jail" say it is an elitist program.