'Pay to Stay' California Jail Lets Inmates Shell Out Lots of Cash for a Quieter, More Private Cell

If you're a fan of Orange is the New Black, one California jail's rules might surprise you. A 'pay to stay' jail in Fremont, California lets inmates pay more for a better cell. So basically, wealthier inmates get better treatment, so long as they're willing to buy it. Kinda runs contrary to the whole 'equal treatment' thing one might expect from the linchpin of the government's criminal justice system, don't you think?

Then again, the cells wealthier inmates pay for aren't exactly the Ritz-Carlton, according to local police lieutenant Mark Devine, who according to local paper The Argus is in charge of the program.

It's still a jail; there's no special treatment. They get the same cot, blanket and food as anybody in the county jail, except that our jail is smaller, quieter and away from the county jail population.

And for all that? Well, the price is $155 a night. No turn-down service provided. Devine says the county actually looked at hotel rates nearby to help set the price. Under the system, inmates get to buy their way into a better, quieter, less scary jail. Honestly, Lindsay Lohan would probably love it.

The special option is in fact meant for inmates who have to serve very little time, Devine told The Argus, like those serving time for a small theft or a DUI. These inmates stay in jail for roughly one to 10 days.

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Other jails in the state have similar programs. And the county says it really needs the money. But the ACLU's Carl Takei told CBS San Francisco that the program shouldn't be allowed, because a stay in a better prison equals a less-harsh punishment.

It violates the principal of equal justice. The punishment that somebody gets should be dependent not on how much they can afford to pay, but on what the crime they committed was.