Rich Criminals in SoCal Are Upgrading Their Jail Digs for a Price

Individuals accused of some of the worst crimes imaginable are enjoying luxuries like cushy beds and flat screen TVs under an infuriating pay-to-play program exposed by the Los Angeles Times last week.

In what is commonly called “pay-to-stay” or “private jail,” a constellation of small city jails — at least 26 of them in Los Angeles and Orange counties — open their doors to defendants who can afford the option. But what started out as an antidote to overcrowding has evolved into a two-tiered justice system that allows people convicted of serious crimes to buy their way into safer and more comfortable jail stays.

An analysis by the Marshall Project and the Los Angeles Times of the more than 3,500 people who served time in Southern California’s pay-to-stay programs from 2011 through 2015 found more than 160 participants who had been convicted of serious crimes including assault, robbery, domestic violence, battery, sexual assault, sexual abuse of children and possession of child pornography.

Law enforcement says the program is contributing to an imbalanced justice system that rewards serious offenders who are willing and able to pay. And pay they do. From 2011 through 2015, an average stay in one of these facilities was $1,756, with the most expensive coming out to $75,050.

“The whole criminal justice system is becoming more and more about: How much money do you have? Can you afford better attorneys? Can you afford to pay for a nicer place to stay?” said LAPD Detective John Eum.

Read more about the pay-to-stay controversy here.


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