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Commonly called “pay-to-stay” or “private jail,” at least 26 jails in Los Angeles and Orange counties are opening their doors to defendants who can afford the option. This is evolving into a two-tiered justice system that allows people convicted of serious crimes to buy their way into safer and more comfortable jail stays.

1. According to the Marshall Project and the Los Angeles Times, of the more than 3,500 people who served time in Southern California’s pay-to-stay programs from 2011 through 2015, how many were convicted of serious crimes?
2. What were the majority of violations for this private jail system?
3. How much did the region’s facilities earn in revenues from the program?
4. What is the average cost of the stay?
5. What was the most expensive stay?
6. Discuss your thoughts about whether this two-tier system should be allowed.

Santo, A., V. Kim, and A. Flagg. (2017). Upgrade your Jail Cell for a Price. The Los Angeles Times, March 9 (Retrievable online at