California jail offers upgrade service for inmates at hotel rates

Inmates at a California jail can choose to serve hard time in style– so long as they are willing to pay for the upgrade.

Time Magazine’s NewsFeed blog reports that for $155 per night–about the price of a three-star hotel – prisoners serving time for misdemeanors can bunk in a special section of the Fremont Detention Center.

The lodging option is part of an “Alternative Confinement Program,” which was created to increase revenue and reduce overcrowding of nearby jails.

Convicts with no criminal gang connections, history of violence, or sex crime convictions can opt to stay at the Fremont facility as an alternative to staying in the larger Glenn E. Dyer Detention Facility in Oakland or the Santa Rita Jail in Dublin, which houses 4000 inmates, many of whom have gang affiliations. Fremont has a maximum capacity of 96 prisoners.

"It's still a jail; there's no special treatment,” Lt. Mark Devine, who oversees the pay-to-stay program told a local newspaper, the Argus. "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."

Fremont spends just over $8 a day per inmate. The city could earn an annual net profit of about $244,000 if they can house 16 inmates for two nights per week.

"This place is for a person who has committed a petty theft or a DUI," Devine added. "It's for people who need to serve one or five, or maybe 10 days in jail."

Inmates can stay in “pod area” with two cot-like sleeping areas adjacent to an open community space. Each inmate receives a phone card and daily meal service that includes a sandwich at lunchtime and a TV dinner.

Similar programs are in effect in 10 other Californian cities.

Click here for more from the Argus