The website of the Santa Ana, California-version of Pay-to-Stay uses hotelier-type verbiage in describing features of its alternative jail program. It tells us that the jail “is pleased to host a full range of alternatives to traditional incarceration”; it reassures prospective “clients” seeking flexible work/jail schedules (“Work on Saturday or Sunday? No problem, your weekend days are our weekend days.”); it guarantees “24-hour on-site medical staff”; it accommodates inmates near and far (“We have helped clients with sentences from other counties as well as other states.”); and it generally brags that the jail “is the most modern and comfortable facility in the region,” where, à la Cheers, “Each of our clients has a name . . . .” Surely this manifestation of pay-to-stay is embarrassing. But, as so honestly represented, pay-to-stay could prove salutary for the criminal justice system if recognized as part of our somewhat ritualized cycle of constructive self-embarrassment over the role of wealth in criminal justice. More specifically, pay-to-stay could become one of those occasional eruptions of transparency about the forms of currency exchanged in the market for punishment.
Pay-to-Stay in California Jails and the Value of Systemic Self-Embarassment,
Mich. L. Rev. First Impressions
Available at: http://repository.law.umich.edu/mlr_fi/vol106/iss1/20