A jail in Santa Ana, Calif., allows inmates guilty of non-violent crimes to pay $75 to $127 a day to serve their time in a relatively clean and quiet section of the jail, The New York Times reported. Some experts called the self-pay jails a good alternative for ordinary citizens who may not fare so well in a typical county jail environment, where gangs and violence are regular problems.
Others see self-pay jails as an unfair, the newspaper said.
"It seems to be to be a little unfair," said Mike Jackson of the National Sheriff's Association. "Two people come in, have the same offense, and the guy who has money gets to pay to stay and the other doesn't. The system is supposed to be equitable."
In some self-pay jail facilities, computers and even iPods are allowed -- and inmates are able to serve on a work furlough, going to their jobs and returning to the jail at the end of the day, the Times reported.