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45 Days?

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I can’t believe they’re sending Paris Hilton to jail for 45 days. Staggered, really. What’s most surprising is that the judge’s order specifically excludes the special segregation jails detailed in an NYT article last week:

Anyone convicted of a crime knows a debt to society often must be paid in jail. But a slice of Californians willing to supplement that debt with cash (no personal checks, please) are finding that the time can be almost bearable.

For offenders whose crimes are usually relatively minor (carjackers should not bother) and whose bank accounts remain lofty, a dozen or so city jails across the state offer pay-to-stay upgrades. Theirs are a clean, quiet, if not exactly recherché alternative to the standard county jails, where the walls are bars, the fellow inmates are hardened and privileges are few.

Many of the self-pay jails operate like secret velvet-roped nightclubs of the corrections world. You have to be in the know to even apply for entry, and even if the court approves your sentence there, jail administrators can operate like bouncers, rejecting anyone they wish.

“I am aware that this is considered to be a five-star Hilton,” said Nicole Brockett, 22, who was recently booked into one of the jails, here in Orange County about 30 miles southeast of Los Angeles, and paid $82 a day to complete a 21-day sentence for a drunken driving conviction.

Apparently, this opportunity is most often taken advantage of by late 30s and early 40s white men who are sent to jail on drunk driving offenses. Although such a program offends some non-specific sensibility of mine, I must say that upon reading the article I immediately began to think about how much segregated time I’d be willing to pony up for at $100/day; a week maybe, but six months would leave me virtually bankrupt. One commentator at the most recent Lexington Drinking Liberally observed that such a program might dramatically cut down on the potential targets for a “kick someone’s ass on the first day” strategy for prison social success. Of course, I’m told that they use guys like me as currency on the inside…

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