In California, a Plan to Charge Inmates for Their Stay

Monica Almeida/The New York Times

The Robert Presley Detention Center in Riverside, Calif., where jails were crowded before the state started sending them inmates.


A one-night stay in this city’s finest hotel costs $190, complete with sumptuous sheets and a gourmet restaurant. Soon, a twin metal bunk at the county jail, with meals served on plastic trays, will run $142.42.

With already crowded jails filling quickly and an $80 million shortfall in the budget, Riverside County officials are increasingly desperate to find every source of revenue they can. So last month, the County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to approve a plan to charge inmates for their stay, reimbursing the county for food, clothing and health care.

Prisoners with no assets will not have to pay, but the county has the ability to garnish wages and place liens on homes under the ordinance, which goes into effect this week.

As the county supervisor who pressed for the ordinance, Jeff Stone, likes to put it: “You do the crime, you will serve the time, and now you will also pay the dime.”

While a few other local governments have tried similar ideas, Riverside is by far the largest to enact what many call a “pay to stay” plan. Mr. Stone estimates that about 25 percent of the county’s prisoners would be able to pay something and that the county could collect as much as $6 million a year.

Continue Reading @ NY Times


One thought on “In California, a Plan to Charge Inmates for Their Stay

  1. Right now I’m glad I don’t like in Riverside County and have no motivation to ever go there. There is so much wrong with this, but what comes to mind is jail is a place you are held BEFORE you stand trial. If you want to charge room and board to those sentenced to jail time, that’s one thing, but being levied a penalty before you are even convicted is disgusting. However, if you are serving time in jail you become custody of the state, and therefore are subjugated to the protocol of institutionalization, it falls on THE STATE to foot the bill for your food, housing and medical bills. The guise of saving money is all that is needed to pass such a measure and widen marginalization of people that much more. Can those who beat their cases sue the County for reimbursement? Yeah, like people who go to jail can afford such things- good one Riverside, way to wear the mask of civility while expending classism in the same breathe. Due to inadequate spending of money by previous legislatures it is now the task of the arrested to fix their mistakes. I also wonder where this “rent” money will go once it is taken from the person unfortunate enough to be arrested and jailed. Crime pays- just ask all the bankers floating bonds to build these human cages instead of schools or libraries.


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