CRIME

Jail in a gilded cage: Forced labor case raises doubts anew

  • In this Jan. 5, 2017, photo, the home of Dan Zhong is seen in Livingston, N.J. Zhong, a businessman imprisoned on charges that he forced immigrant laborers to do construction at Chinese diplomatic facilities in the U.S. wants permission to turn his New Jersey home into a private jail where he can comfortably await trial. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)

    In this Jan. 5, 2017, photo, the home of Dan Zhong is seen in Livingston, N.J. Zhong, a businessman imprisoned on charges that he forced immigrant laborers to do construction at Chinese diplomatic facilities in the U.S. wants permission to turn his New Jersey home into a private jail where he can comfortably await trial. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)  (The Associated Press)

  • The Metropolitan Detention Center (MDC) is shown Sunday, Jan. 8, 2017, in the Brooklyn borough of New York. Dan Zhong, a businessman imprisoned on charges he forced immigrant laborers to do construction at Chinese diplomatic facilities in the U.S., wants to turn his New Jersey home into a private jail where he can comfortably await trial. For now Zhong is a prisoner at the MDC. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

    The Metropolitan Detention Center (MDC) is shown Sunday, Jan. 8, 2017, in the Brooklyn borough of New York. Dan Zhong, a businessman imprisoned on charges he forced immigrant laborers to do construction at Chinese diplomatic facilities in the U.S., wants to turn his New Jersey home into a private jail where he can comfortably await trial. For now Zhong is a prisoner at the MDC. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)  (The Associated Press)

A businessman's request to pay for his house arrest has renewed the debate over whether the wealthy should be allowed to finance their own private jails.

Dan Zhong has offered to hire a private security firm for $144,000 a month to secure his suburban New Jersey home in a way that would convince a court he can't flee the country.

The 47-year-old Zhong has pleaded not guilty to charges accusing him of using immigrants as "slave labor" on construction projects at Chinese diplomatic facilities. Like rich defendants in other cases, he wants to use his wealth to avoid languishing in jail while awaiting trial.

Prosecutors have questioned where his money is coming from.

A hearing is set for Monday.