The Fremont Police Department is set to begin offering an alternative for inmates who may prefer to pay for their stay in jail.
Fremont police say they will begin a “pay-to-stay” program for those convicted of misdemeanors and sentenced to spend several days in Alameda County jails.
The Fremont Argus says inmates can pay a $155 daily fee, plus a one-time fee of $45, making the cost similar to staying at a nearby hotel, and avoid serving their time in the rougher county jails in Oakland and Dublin.
“It’s still a jail; there’s no special treatment,” said Lt. Mark Devine, a Fremont police official who oversees the program. “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.”
The inmates must get a judge’s approval and go through a screening by jail officials.
Similar programs are offered in other California cities including Anaheim, Beverly Hills, Glendale and Roseville.
The ACLU has criticized the pay-to-stay program, calling it “a jail for the rich.”
But Fremont officials say the program can help the city pay for the operation costs of its detention facility, which often sits nearly empty.
“The jail has 58 beds, but at any one time on the weekend we’re lucky if we have a dozen people using it,” Devine said. “We have a lot of unused capacity, so we have unused taxpayer-invested money just sitting there.”
According to the Argus, the city’s jail spends $8.35 per day per inmate, so even if only relatively few people choose the pay-to-stay option, the city could turn a net annual profit.