Even in prison, there are the haves and the have-nots.
Consider California, where the ability and willingness to pay $100 per night can be a suspect in a cell that is – if not the Disney resort quality – better than the unsafe, sandy quarters, shouting “punishment.”
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The amenities — yes, that word can be used in the same sentence as “prison” in some places, are equipped with a flat-screen Tv, a computer room, yoga sessions, and new beds, according to a story jointly reported by the Marshall Project, and the Los Angeles Times.
A defendant to opt for a less prison-sense prison was Alan Wurtzel, described in the story is convicted and sentenced to one year in prison for the sexual battery.
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The East Block for death row prisoners is seen during a media tour of the California Death Row at San Quentin State Prison in San Quentin, California.
Wurtzel paid $100 per night to avoid the unpleasant experience with other convicts as he, and ended up in Seal Beach city jail, where he operated a flat-screen Tv, a new bed among other amenities. He also served six months, all of which do not sit well with his victim, who spoke to the Times and the Marshall Project and expressed disgust that not only does Wurtzel not be of service throughout the year, that seemed not enough to her to begin with, but that he got to choose the less unpleasant accommodations than the Los Angeles County Jail.
“I have the feeling, ‘Why did I do this?'” she said to reporters covering the story.
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The perhaps dubious practice began as a way to deal with the overcrowding in the prison. Then it is broadened to give this a chance to stay in a safer and less sandy environment.
The two news sites on the internet, found that more than 3,500 people who chose the so-called pay-to-stay option for their imprisonment between 2011 and 2015, more than 160 were convicted for assault, robbery, domestic violence, battery, sexual assault, sexual abuse of children and possession of child pornography, among other serious crimes.
Most people who a time in the pay-to-stay jails are there for offenses such as driving under the influence, the story said.
It is up to the judges to determine whether a person who is convicted of a crime serves time in a county or city jail.
Of course, the two-layer system has plenty of critics than of victims who have no comfort in seeing their victimizer to pay for their crimes in relative comfort.
Many law enforcement officials see the pay-to-stay option as it goes against the fundamental concept of punishment, or retributive justice, for a person who committed a crime.
The American Civil Liberties Union against the slammer upgrade as a “prison for the rich,” says it is simply un-American for the treatment of the better-better.
Wurtzel’s attorney said that his client is just not the prison type, and that would be obvious to the hardcore criminals who might know him as a target for harassment.
“There is a pecking order among the prisoners…he is not someone who would do well,” the lawyer, Robert Schwartz, was quoted as saying in the story that appeared in the Times. “It is still a prison. There is still the loss of freedom.”
Leonol Pelayo, who remained in a pay-to-stay jail after pleading no contest to rape of a 14-year-old girl at his South L. A. the church in 2011, said that there was no way he was going to stay in a difficult place like a real jail.
“County jail, you are verbally abused, physically abused by anyone,” said Pelayo, who was a leader of the church, according to the Times story. “I didn’t want to at a day.”
Some county officials say in the Times story that there are advantages to the system that go further than the person at the time of serving.
“Each case on its own merits,” Jane Robison, Los Angeles County district attorney spokeswoman, wrote in an e-mail.
Susan Kang Schroeder, chief of staff of the Orange County district attorney, was quoted as saying that a pay-to-stay conviction for a serious crime is “not something we take lightly.”
“We didn’t create the system,” Schroeder said. “So we have to work within and find out what is in the best interest of a case. You might even say that if it helps the taxpayer save money, which is always a good thing.”