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The velvet rope goes to jail.
April 28, 2007 2:58 PM   Subscribe

Are you about to do some time in a California jail, but feel that people of your quality shouldn't have to mix with the other inmates? For just $82 a day, you don't have to! I suspect it's an extension of that classic Clinton-era program.
posted by Pope Guilty (99 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
Ms. Brockett, who in her oversized orange T-shirt and flip-flops looked more like a contestant on “The Real World” than inmate, shopped around for the best accommodations, travel-ocity.com-style.

That travel-ocity.com. Very popular website (at least it will be soon :P)
posted by delmoi at 3:08 PM on April 28, 2007


Clinton was just thinking of himself. (The probability of the first black president ending up in prison being close to unity.)
posted by three blind mice at 3:10 PM on April 28, 2007


Thanks for the link to the PPC search, NYT!
posted by dozo at 3:11 PM on April 28, 2007


"Tome 'em, Dano!"
posted by rob511 at 3:28 PM on April 28, 2007


Very Snow Crash. With some extra cash you can stay in The Hoosegow instead of The Clink
posted by substrate at 3:31 PM on April 28, 2007 [2 favorites]


It's a step in the right direction. Nonviolent, well-behaved offenders should be segregated.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 3:31 PM on April 28, 2007


Yes, MPDSEA, but money shouldn't be the deciding factor.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 3:33 PM on April 28, 2007 [3 favorites]


So rather than expect the Bureau of Corerections to enforce the law in its jails and prisons, just pay $82/day extortion to avoid being raped.

That way, no one with money or connections has any incentive to keep prisons from neing medieval dungeons.
posted by orthogonality at 3:36 PM on April 28, 2007 [5 favorites]


Who said anything about avoiding rape? This is about doing it with some class.
posted by phaedon at 3:40 PM on April 28, 2007


Maybe not, but with today's prevailing "tough on crime" attitude, getting taxpayers to pay for it is going to be a tough sell.

The article is less than clear regarding the exact criteria for admittance, and it is kind of sensationalist. The "secret velvet-roped nightclubs," "The Real World," "compose...a song" language is clearly meant to make the reader think of celebrity privilege without actually saying it.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 3:42 PM on April 28, 2007


orthogonality: At least from what I've seen, this is being done in jails, not prisons.

That being said, I agree that this is a terrible idea. Revolting, in fact. As dirtynumbangelboy said, jails should be safer, and even more comfortable, but they should be for everyone, not just those who can afford 100 bucks a day.
posted by Doug at 3:43 PM on April 28, 2007


That's fucking obscene.

The prison system in this country fucking infuriates me.
posted by empath at 3:48 PM on April 28, 2007


Yeah, I was about to say this is very Snow Crash.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:49 PM on April 28, 2007


Snow Crash? It's very Baroque Cycle, and is a continuation of a millenia-old tradition of allowing upper-class people guilty of common transgressions to buy off their fear of downward social mobility with cold hard cash.
posted by infinitewindow at 3:59 PM on April 28, 2007 [2 favorites]


not prisons, jails.
posted by sophist at 4:01 PM on April 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


life is a shit sandwich ... the more bread you have, the better it tastes
posted by pyramid termite at 4:08 PM on April 28, 2007 [2 favorites]


Life is like a shit sandwich: the more bread you have, the less shit you have to eat.
posted by Eekacat at 4:10 PM on April 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


What is interesting to me is that people are upset about the fact that somebody who reimburses the state for the money taxpayers would normally have to spend to incarcerate them gets better accommodations that an inmate who freerides off the system. The article made it pretty clear that the accommodations weren't exactly Club Med. In a sense, these programs encourage those arrested to pay to stay. Of course, I anticipate the knee-jerk response: "but Pedro doesn't have enough money to pay the fee for his year-long cocaine distribution charge -- I'm outraged!"
posted by gagglezoomer at 4:11 PM on April 28, 2007


Holy crap pyramid termite!
posted by Eekacat at 4:11 PM on April 28, 2007


Snow Crash was predicated on the breakdown of the state. In contrast, what we're seeing here is a small part of the return of the United States to the Dickensian conditions of the 19th century.
At the beginning of the eighteenth century... Debtors did not share suffering equally in their prison. Wealthy debtors sent to prison to pay still had assets to draw upon and obtained private accommodations and even redecorated with some of the comforts of home.
See also:
current inequality between rich and poor at highest levels since 1928;
social mobility of the US far worse than in Europe;
mass privatization of critical public infrastructure;
neglect of infrastructure;
domination of the US political process by multimillionaires and immensely powerful media;
etc, etc
posted by Bletch at 4:15 PM on April 28, 2007 [3 favorites]


At the beginning of the eighteenth century... Debtors did not share suffering equally in their prison. Wealthy debtors sent to prison to pay still had assets to draw upon and obtained private accommodations and even redecorated with some of the comforts of home.

We currently don't have debtors prisons at all.
posted by delmoi at 4:17 PM on April 28, 2007


Somehow the fact that my hometown (Pasadena) has one of these pay-to-stay facilities doesn't surprise me.
posted by blucevalo at 4:17 PM on April 28, 2007


Somehow the fact that your hometown (Pasadena) has one of those pay-to-stay facilities doesn't surprise me, either.
posted by phaedon at 4:18 PM on April 28, 2007


It's not bribery and corruption if it's legal, I guess.
posted by 2sheets at 4:37 PM on April 28, 2007


What is interesting to me is that people are upset about the fact that somebody who reimburses the state for the money taxpayers would normally have to spend to incarcerate them gets better accommodations that an inmate who freerides off the system. The article made it pretty clear that the accommodations weren't exactly Club Med. In a sense, these programs encourage those arrested to pay to stay. Of course, I anticipate the knee-jerk response: "but Pedro doesn't have enough money to pay the fee for his year-long cocaine distribution charge -- I'm outraged!"

Sure, but isn't jail supposed to be a punishment rather than a sub-par hotel? I don't want Princess DUI throwing caution to the wind because all she'll be out is $1700 the next time she takes her Benzo out after pounding a few.
posted by katillathehun at 4:49 PM on April 28, 2007


What is interesting to me is that people are upset about the fact that somebody who reimburses the state for the money taxpayers would normally have to spend to incarcerate them gets better accommodations that an inmate who freerides off the system.

Being imprisoned against your will is "freeriding off the system".

You know, there's a lot of reasons I loathe right-wingers, but this is one of the big ones right here.
posted by Pope Guilty at 4:54 PM on April 28, 2007 [7 favorites]


Bread is like a life sandwich; the more you eat, the more you shit.
posted by papakwanz at 5:04 PM on April 28, 2007 [2 favorites]


It actually makes a certain amount of sense to view many (perhaps all) inmates as free riders.

They forced society to incur a cost that they could not (or would not) themselves cover. So long as the punitive goals of incarceration are still met, there's no reason the state shouldn't be amicable to people funding part of their own incarceration and consequently receiving better (i.e. more costly) conditions.

If you think being confined to a small, clean, safe room for several weeks or months on end isn't punishment, you must lead a very boring life indeed.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 5:06 PM on April 28, 2007


If you think being confined to a small, clean, safe room for several weeks or months on end isn't punishment

That's not the issue. Equality before the law is.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 5:10 PM on April 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


What's the Matter With California?
posted by washburn at 5:11 PM on April 28, 2007


Your pink sock comes with a mint.
posted by phaedon at 5:13 PM on April 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


So long as the punitive goals of incarceration are still met, there's no reason the state shouldn't be amicable to people funding part of their own incarceration and consequently receiving better (i.e. more costly) conditions.

It's not just more costly provisions they're getting. They're also getting more privileges - bringing along an ipod, for example - and that's what gets under my skin.

When I was a kid, my parents never sent me to my room when I was in trouble. Why not? Because my books and games and music were in there. Where was the punishment in that? (Instead, they made me sit with them in the family room. More effective than you'd think.)
posted by katillathehun at 5:15 PM on April 28, 2007


Equality before the law surely demands the similar treatment of the similarly situated, not the identical treatment of everyone.

Putting one first-time nonviolent offender in the general population and another in special accommodations when there was no relevant distinction between them would violate such a principle, but I'm not convinced that's what's going on here.

The people receiving special accommodations are being fined as well as incarcerated. That's a difference right there. Moreover, the jail administrators have leeway to identify differences between inmates that warrant differing treatment compatible with the overall penal goals of the institution. This is necessary in any penal system.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 5:16 PM on April 28, 2007


It's not just more costly provisions they're getting. They're also getting more privileges - bringing along an ipod, for example - and that's what gets under my skin.

I'm not convinced that the prohibition on outside property in jails was ever entirely about punishment. It's also about administering a safe jail. If high-risk offenders are allowed to bring personal property into the jail, there is a real risk to the other inmates.

There is no such risk in the low-risk group that is paying for these special accommodations.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 5:19 PM on April 28, 2007


As someone with $84, a fear of jail, but a love for petty crime, I support this.
posted by ColdChef at 5:30 PM on April 28, 2007 [12 favorites]


"Equality before the law"

And as concepts go, this one isn't really that hard to grasp. Yet some persist in trying to twist and mangle it so that it sounds reasonable that a criminal with a little extra cash gets favorable treatment.
posted by 2sheets at 5:36 PM on April 28, 2007


Equality before the law surely demands the similar treatment of the similarly situated, not the identical treatment of everyone.

Fine, but how do we account for the fact that, under this system, two people can have the exact same sentence for the exact same crime, and have widely varying punishments in the same jail based solely on their differing wealth?
posted by Doug at 5:38 PM on April 28, 2007


MPDSEA, your arguments would support a system which put less-violent offenders in a separate facility regardless of whether they pay a bribe fee to the officials. After all, Johnny Pot-Smoker and Winona Petty-Lareny are likely to be a lot less violent than Shivvy McBlingBling the music celebrity. But the payola system you advocate puts Shivvy in the same facility as Princess DUI, and Johnny and Winona in the same facility as Hannibal Serial-Rapist. (Unless Hannibal is rich, then Hannibal gets to hang out with Shivvy and Princess and Johnny cools his heels with your Pedro.)
posted by hattifattener at 5:45 PM on April 28, 2007


Speaking of strip searches (NSF(non prison)W)
posted by delmoi at 5:46 PM on April 28, 2007


That's not the issue. Equality before the law is.

do suburban drunk drivers feel as safe in jail as gang members? ... where's the equality there?

do you really think that mr poor person with a public defender is going to get the same time as mr 9 to 5 with a hired lawyer? ... where's the equality there?

they're already getting privileges just due to their position in society ... at least they're having to pay money daily for these ones ... (truth is, if they're polite, they're going to be treated differently by the jail staff anyway)

you know, it's funny ... people bitch all the time about how the government's protecting them, but i don't see anyone demonstrating in front of the police stations and jails ... and when it's proposed that people arm themselves to protect themselves, many of you act horrified ... and yet, a society where criminals would be at more risk would also be a society with less people willing to take that risk

many of you don't want people doing that for themselves but you don't like how the government does it for you ... they're too rough, they're not fair, it's awful in jail ...

but if you're not willing to empower the people then you'll have to keep empowering the government
posted by pyramid termite at 5:51 PM on April 28, 2007


Why am I not surprised that the "libertarians" are for this? Because even as criminals, the rich are better than the rest of us and deserve a lesser punishment.
posted by dirigibleman at 5:59 PM on April 28, 2007 [2 favorites]


And as concepts go, this one isn't really that hard to grasp. Yet some persist in trying to twist and mangle it so that it sounds reasonable that a criminal with a little extra cash gets favorable treatment.

It may in fact be reasonable. You can divide aspects of incarceration into three general groupings. 1) Aspects with punitive intent, 2) aspects intended for administrative convenience / cost reduction, and 3) aspects due to administrative abuse.

The first category should obviously be roughly similar for similar offenders. The third should be suppressed whenever possible. The second, though, is open to much more discretion on the part of the jail administrators.

Perhaps California thinks that the fundamental punitive aspect of incarceration is deprivation of liberty. Maybe California thinks that being deprived of iPods isn't actually necessary to the punitive goal of jails, but rather it serves goals of administrative convenience. If this is indeed California's view, there's nothing wrong with allowing people to pay a fine in addition to their imprisonment to offset the administrative inconvenience and additional costs incurred by differing treatment.

Equality before the law is not actually an easy idea at all, and if you think it is, you probably just have a poor grasp of it.

Fine, but how do we account for the fact that, under this system, two people can have the exact same sentence for the exact same crime, and have widely varying punishments in the same jail based solely on their differing wealth?

Not all aspects of incarceration are properly thought of as "punishment."

MPDSEA, your arguments would support a system which put less-violent offenders in a separate facility regardless of whether they pay a bribe fee to the officials.

You're only addressing the safety aspect of the separate facility and not the additional cost.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 6:13 PM on April 28, 2007


So rather than expect the Bureau of Corerections to enforce the law in its jails and prisons, just pay $82/day extortion to avoid being raped.

The thuggish element among the prisoners have been extorting smaller, weaker inmates for years.

The State of California saw an opportunity there.
posted by jason's_planet at 6:51 PM on April 28, 2007 [3 favorites]


Why am I not surprised that the "libertarians" are for this?

One of the anti-libertarian blowhards on USENET had this for a tagline:

"libertarianism: all the freedom you can afford, and not one drop more."

which resonated with me, since it is indeed libertarianism in a nutshell, eg:

You're only addressing the safety aspect of the separate facility and not the additional cost
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 6:54 PM on April 28, 2007


so does this mean that rich people don't have to eat shit sandwiches?
posted by BrnP84 at 7:14 PM on April 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


Not all aspects of incarceration are properly thought of as "punishment."

No, of course not. But practically every factor related to this issue can be.

Ultimately, being sentenced to a jail sentence is a punishment, by any definition of the word. In this system, some people will experience a more harsh punishment, by any realistic measure, purely on the basis of their ability to pay a fee. It is silly, or simply disingenuous, to pretend that some people aren't receiving worse punishments because of a factor completely unrelated to their crime: their personal wealth.
posted by Doug at 7:20 PM on April 28, 2007


You keep saying that people are being treated leniently because of their personal wealth, as though they simply need to flash their bank account statement to receive special treatment, but that's simply not what's happening.

They're being punished in one way (jail 1 + fine) while other people are being punished in a different way (just jail 2). People receive different punishments for the same crime all the time, and to a large extent, this is a good thing.

I simply don't understand why it's so important to you that everyone be incarcerated in the same jail. As far as I can tell, it serves no penal interest whatsoever, and you've given me none.

As far as I can tell, you simply have a naked hatred of the better off and delight in the thought of them being treated badly, even if no legitimate penal interest is served. The goal of punishment should be retribution commensurate with the convicted person's culpability, specific and general deterrence, and incapacitation of dangerous persons.

The California system in question certainly appears to satisfy all of these goals, and you've given no argument that it doesn't.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 7:42 PM on April 28, 2007


Everyone remember this article next time you blow off some anarchist/communist protestor who tells you that the purpose of our justice system is to protect the rich from the poor.

Remember it well.
posted by Avenger at 8:03 PM on April 28, 2007 [2 favorites]


As far as I can tell, you simply have a naked hatred of the better off...

First, I don't have a naked hatred of the better off. I AM one of the better off, at least compared to the vast majority of those who pass through the criminal justice system.

and delight in the thought of them being treated badly

It is not treating them badly to treat them the same as a poorer person. That is the issue here. It is an issue of equality. I'd be all for segregating non-violent offenders, but I think doing it only for the middle and upper classes is a bad idea. It is against penal and societal interest, in my opinion, to show favoritism toward the wealthy. It undermines respect for the law and the criminal justice system, which is a very big issue in many poor communities. Hell, look around the thread, it's a big issue HERE.

This isn't an issue of simply paying a fine. The officials in the article clearly indicate that this is also an issue of personal safety. It is simply not right, if that is the case, to allow some individuals greater personal safety because they can pay a fee.
posted by Doug at 8:07 PM on April 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


I will never understand the liberal mind. Apparently it's better that everyone be treated badly if the resources aren't available to treat everyone well.

Of course better, safer jails are desirable for everyone, but the fact is, they're not available because taxpayers don't want to pay for them.

I simply don't see any value in "equality" when what's being distributed equally is something no one should have! This attitude is absurd, and it's all too common.

Equality should only move in a positive direction. We shouldn't deprive people of things they could otherwise afford in the name of equality unless doing so makes someone else better off. There's no value in making everyone worse off.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 8:44 PM on April 28, 2007


Of course better, safer jails are desirable for everyone, but the fact is, they're not available because taxpayers don't want to pay for them.

Part of the reason they're not available is that guards encourage the rape culture. Prison rape, and the threat of prison rape, keep inmates in line.

From Salon Magazine:
State prosecutors alleged that in March 1993, the four Corcoran State Prison Security Housing Unit officers, led by Sgt. Robert Alan Decker, deliberately transferred inmate Eddie Dillard to the cell of Wayne Robertson, aka the "Booty Bandit" knowing that the younger, smaller inmate would be raped. At trial, Robertson testified that he had indeed beaten and sodomized Dillard for two days because guards had said that Dillard needed to "learn how to do his time."
posted by jason's_planet at 9:06 PM on April 28, 2007


I will never understand the liberal mind.

We don't base our sense of fairness on a person's net worth. It's a tough concept, I know.

I simply don't see any value in "equality" when what's being distributed equally is something no one should have!

No one should have freedom from prison rape unless they can afford it.
posted by dirigibleman at 9:07 PM on April 28, 2007 [2 favorites]


That $82 is not a fine or a punishment; it's a fee.

A fine is when the librarian charges you $5 for returning a book past the due date. I never see that money again.

A fee is when I slip the librarian a $5 and am allowed to do my homework in the librarians' lounge behind the reserve desk instead of having to sit in the main room with all the rest of the patrons.

I may still be grounded and have to go to the library after school instead of going to the roller-skating rink after school, but there's nothing punitive about that second $5. That $5 provides me with tangible benefits.

That said, I'm not really offended by the idea of allowing people to pay for the privilege of bringing their Ipods to jail. Outside of the prison-industrial complex, when you pay $82 a day to be kept safe from thugs, it's called protection money.
posted by freshwater_pr0n at 9:15 PM on April 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


We don't base our sense of fairness on a person's net worth. It's a tough concept, I know.

Instead, if anyone must suffer, everyone must suffer. What a pathetic cult of victimhood.

No one should have freedom from prison rape unless they can afford it.

Nobody is suggesting anything of the sort. Ideally, no one would be raped in prison, but the taxpayers aren't interested in that.

Your warped sense of "fairness" demands that everyone suffer prison rape, though, even if they can cover the costs of protecting themselves--costs the taxpayers refuse to bear. It's disgusting that you see "fairness" in that sort of violation.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 9:45 PM on April 28, 2007


Outside of the prison-industrial complex, when you pay $82 a day to be kept safe from thugs, it's called protection money.

No, it's called paying a premium to live in a good neighborhood in a good city. It's called paying for a well-equipped, well-trained police force.

People pay for security all the time.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 9:47 PM on April 28, 2007


I will never understand the liberal mind. Apparently it's better that everyone be treated badly if the resources aren't available to treat everyone well.

I will never understand the conservative mind. Apparently it's better to put a band-aid over a problem than to actually find a solution.
posted by Doug at 9:53 PM on April 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


stop hiding behind the fucking "taxpayers", Mr President Dr Steve Elvis America.

Apparently it's better that everyone be treated badly if the resources aren't available to treat everyone well.

You're confusing "well" with "fairly, according to their rights".

And this country certainly has the resources to treat everyone fairly. That we're not presently doing so is not a moral argument, but evasion.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 9:53 PM on April 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


Your warped sense of "fairness" demands that everyone suffer prison rape

My god, this strawman... it is a thing of beauty!
posted by papakwanz at 9:54 PM on April 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


People pay for security all the time

indeed, another central feature of libertopia and real-world, measurable failure of good governance. cf Somalia.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 9:58 PM on April 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


I will never understand the liberal mind. Apparently it's better that everyone be treated badly if the resources aren't available to treat everyone well.

It's not liberal of me to say so, but people should perhaps experience jail for a spell after invoking strawmen. Or a penalty box, something, anything. That garbage really drags a discussion down.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:59 PM on April 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


Why stop at $82/day for an upgraded cell and a measure of safety. For $134/day you can upgrade to the cell with a hottub, and for $203/day you can get WiFi and daily footrubs from the guards.
posted by mach at 10:02 PM on April 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


"everyone must suffer"
No, simply everyone who has been convicted of a crime. You're just being silly now.
posted by 2sheets at 10:06 PM on April 28, 2007


I will never understand the liberal mind. Apparently it's better that everyone be treated badly if the resources aren't available to treat everyone well.

Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America, you've found us out. Saw right through us.

We lib'ruls really do believe that no one, even those who can pay protection money, deserves to exercise the eighth amendment. We make nice and pretend to believe that every prisoner, regardless of his or her socioeconomic status, should be safe from assault, sexual or otherwise. But really, yeah, you got us. We think that all prisoners should get raped and beaten by bigger, better-connected inmates. It's better that way.
posted by freshwater_pr0n at 10:58 PM on April 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


freshwater_pr0n, you're trying to be sarcastic, but what you're saying is actually quite accurate.

It's incontrovertible that programs like California's do in fact protect the the participants from abuse, including rape. I can only conclude that the people who are opposed to such programs think that people getting raped in order to uphold nebulous ideals of "fairness" is a good trade off.

That's how things work. If you support or oppose a policy, you support or oppose the knowable consequences of that policy.

To use a more familiar example, perhaps, imagine if someone told you that they were in favor of the Iraq war, but entirely against civilian casualties. You'd rightly call such a person a fool. War inevitably and predictably brings civilian casualties, so the only way to be in favor of a war is to believe that the goal served by the war is worth the civilian casualties.

I guess what you're telling me is that upholding vague notions of fairness is worth people getting raped. I personally think that idea is repulsive.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 11:27 PM on April 28, 2007


Sounds like a un-egalitarian thing to me but I sure as hell would take advantage of it if I get popped by the cops and could make the payment.
You college boys should stop throwing quotes at each other before you put an eye out.
posted by Iron Rat at 11:35 PM on April 28, 2007


Mister President Dr. Steve Elvis America, this might make things easier for you. Your rhetorical hole is about to hit bedrock.
posted by freshwater_pr0n at 11:43 PM on April 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


I can only conclude that the people who are opposed to such programs think that people getting raped in order to uphold nebulous ideals of "fairness" is a good trade off.

...and people who are against sweatshops want third-world residents to starve, and people who are against police brutality want the law-abiding to be at the mercy of criminals.

We don't want more people to be raped. We don't want anyone to be raped, and it smacks of trolling that you would even have the sheer shitheaded gall to say we do. What we want is a system in which the wealthy are treated the same as everyone else.

Your defence of what amounts to an organised system of bribery is contemptible, sheer filth. If you like it so much, move to Somalia.
posted by Pope Guilty at 12:12 AM on April 29, 2007 [1 favorite]


Mr. President, the issue here is not that liberals want to see everyone suffer, its that no one should suffer. Instead of allowing the priviledged few to buy a "get out of jail" card, fix the system so that everybody can feel safe while paying their debt to society. This is not a question of lack of resources, this is a question of leadership. This would not be an issue if the guards knew there would be ramifications (for them) for letting prisoners get raped.
posted by mach at 12:30 AM on April 29, 2007 [1 favorite]


I can only conclude that the people who are opposed to such programs think that people getting raped in order to uphold nebulous ideals of "fairness" is a good trade off

no, us bleeding-heart liberals are saying this favorable treatment shouldn't be up for sale; no government service should be up for sale like this. This is supposed to be the greatest country on earth, beacon of freedom and human dignity, not some third-world shithole.

And Human rights are not "nebulous ideals of fairness"; that you believe they are make you part of the problem.

Again, we understand these words cannot penetrate pinheaded people like you, who as you rely on a dog's breakfast of logical fallacies to support what passes for argument.

But still we try.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 12:30 AM on April 29, 2007 [1 favorite]


I suppose the rich can afford a better sort of justice than the rest of us.
posted by sebastienbailard at 12:34 AM on April 29, 2007 [1 favorite]


We don't want more people to be raped. We don't want anyone to be raped, and it smacks of trolling that you would even have the sheer shitheaded gall to say we do.

I didn't say that anyone "wanted" anyone to get raped. That would imply that, in the abstract, all things being equal, you would prefer that people got raped. I'm sure that's not so.

That said, it doesn't matter one bit whether you want it or not. What matters is the consequences of the policies you support, which are going to occur if those policies are implemented, whether you want it or not.

You can't whitewash yourself of the consequences of your policies by insisting you don't want them.

What we want is a system in which the wealthy are treated the same as everyone else.

You support policies that result in more rapes than might otherwise occur. That's just a fact. Maybe you think you can justify those rapes. Hell, maybe you're right.

Getting offended because someone points out the real-world consequences of your ideology is just stupid, though.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 12:37 AM on April 29, 2007


[N]o one should suffer...fix the system so that everybody can feel safe while paying their debt to society.

I agree. That would be vastly superior. I very much support large-scale prison reform (including drug law reform), and I would be perfectly willing to pay for it with my tax dollar.

Prison reform doesn't seem to be a very compelling issue among most voters, though, and nothing seems to be getting done. In the mean time, people continue to be assaulted and raped in jails and prisons.

I support both long-term, far-reaching reforms that may take many years to get off the ground (if they ever do) and immediate measures that can at least protect some people. I am unwilling to take an ideological stance that, in my mind, fails to protect today people who can be protected today.

no, us bleeding-heart liberals are saying this favorable treatment shouldn't be up for sale; no government service should be up for sale like this.

Absolute principles like this are of limited practical applicability. Inevitably principles will conflict, and such cases cannot be resolved by bleating one's favored principle over and over.

I agree the California system is not perfect. It's certainly not the system I would've chosen, had I been given the choice. I would've picked something much closer to what you're describing.

I wasn't given the choice, though, and neither were you. We have to try to do the best with the situation we have and the political realities that we've inherited. The fact is, programs like the California one really do protect people from abuses.

No, they don't protect everyone, but we can't protect everyone. There's no way to do it right now.

And Human rights are not "nebulous ideals of fairness"; that you believe they are make you part of the problem.

Some people also respect a human right of sexual autonomy. Of course you're going to tell me that everyone's right to sexual autonomy should be respected, and I agree, but we have to always be aware of what's actually possible and what the actual consequences of the policies we enact are.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 12:53 AM on April 29, 2007


The fact is, programs like the California one really do protect people from abuses.

I wish to retract my above offensiveness. This line of argument is profitable, and your aboves are not fallacious, just not fulling seeing the bigger picture here.

Like you, I consider all prison rapes, regardless of social or economic class of the victim, to be a horrible black mark against our society.

But, unlike you, I believe a two-class system you defend in the general case is structured to perpetuate -- and strengthen -- this injustice, rather than mitigate it.

Our state-run prisons should not be in such a parlous condition that they would make the Turks blanch, and things are not going to be fixed if only the disenfranchised have to suffer in them.

"Separate-but-equal" is the wrong way to go because it moves you away from equality. And I say this as a white-bread wealthy Californian that would jump at this special treatment if I were facing jail & it were available in my area.

I would have no problem with this jail policy if ability to pay were not involved. Bringing money into this -- a token amount, considering government's expense in toto -- is an evil.

IMV it is similar to the fire department explicitly offering two-class support for service depending on ability to pay.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 1:25 AM on April 29, 2007 [2 favorites]


If the rich aren't exposed to the same system the poor have to suffer, the system will never be improved. (Which it could be just by giving everyone solitary.)
posted by pracowity at 1:33 AM on April 29, 2007 [1 favorite]


I would have no problem with this jail policy if ability to pay were not involved. Bringing money into this -- a token amount, considering government's expense in toto -- is an evil.

Here's the thing, though, money was already in it, and there's no way around that. Insisting that some things shouldn't be about money is useless, because they actually do cost money and someone actually does have to pay for them.

We agree that safe prisons are something the state should fund for everyone. You think that if the state declines to do so, though, people should be disallowed from paying for it themselves. I disagree.

I see the situation as akin to a crappy public fire department and a policy forbidding private fire suppression.

You claim that systems such as California's will perpetuate abusive incarceration for the people who can't afford better, but I think that perspective disregards the individual rights of the incarcerated. The rapes are real and they're happening now, but the benefits of non-segregated jails are speculative and distant.

If the rich aren't exposed to the same system the poor have to suffer, the system will never be improved. (Which it could be just by giving everyone solitary.)

I just know I couldn't tell someone that we absolutely could've protected them, but their rape was necessary to effect broader social change that will benefit others. I'm not comfortable using people like that, even if I think the goal is valuable.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 1:57 AM on April 29, 2007


Your protection for one person comes at the cost of no protection for others. I just know I couldn't tell the poor folk that we only protect the rich ones from intimidation and rape and beatings and murder, that we know such things happen all the time right within the walls of our government institutions and that we have means to stop it, but that we just don't stop it because some idiot decided human rights are for sale to the highest bidder.

Start with universal and equal solitary. There is no justice when prisoners can punish one another. Provide one tiny cell per prisoner, just bare walls and no frills, and no contact with other prisoners outside well-guarded group events. If there's a cell upgrade for one, there has to be the same upgrade for everyone throughout the prison system.
posted by pracowity at 2:39 AM on April 29, 2007


Well, right now we're telling people we're absolutely willing to protect them from being raped if they pay $82/day.
posted by sebastienbailard at 2:40 AM on April 29, 2007 [1 favorite]


This is not a question of lack of resources, this is a question of leadership. This would not be an issue if the guards knew there would be ramifications (for them) for letting prisoners get raped.

I appreciate your position on this mach, and agree that guard apathy needs to be addressed. But prison overcrowding is a very large contributing factor.
posted by the other side at 4:09 AM on April 29, 2007


Start with universal and equal solitary. There is no justice when prisoners can punish one another. Provide one tiny cell per prisoner, just bare walls and no frills, and no contact with other prisoners outside well-guarded group events.

Nice idea, not going to happen. This is a real problem, not just an intellectual exercise. Do you not understand that?
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 4:42 AM on April 29, 2007


Your protection for one person comes at the cost of no protection for others.

really? ... we let prisoners form gangs ... we let them have exercise equipment so they can beef themselves up

i hear everyone crying about the inequality of money affecting the system, but nothing about the inequality of physical build and social connections that others would suffer

and steve's right ... given the choices that are currently being offered for our system, you are in effect choosing that the weaker and less connected will suffer because of your adherence to some nebulous and fictional equality

stop hiding behind the fucking "taxpayers"

quit pretending they don't have the final say in all this

And this country certainly has the resources to treat everyone fairly.

we even have the resources to institute complete equality with a communist government

in the interest of fairness, we should make EVERYONE have public defenders, because the rich shouldn't have better lawyers than the poor ... we should make sure that "jobs worked" and "standing in the community" are never considered by judges in sentencing, because the rich will do better than the poor will ... we should make sure that NO ONE makes bail because the poor sure as hell can't ... we should also make sure that rich relatives can't send their people "care packages" that are so much better than what poor people should receive from their relatives

no, i think what's really offended people about this "pay for a better room" policy is that the transaction is public and blatant, instead of being semi-private and unobvious ... because the above "violations" of equality are just as prevalent and just as unfair and i don't see anyone squawking about them

as if your average mafia don never got better treatment in prison than joe average ...
posted by pyramid termite at 5:01 AM on April 29, 2007


mass privatization of critical public infrastructure

That's exactly the idea of people who would like to run the prison system. Some experiment already shows troubles, such as underpaying prison staff making them a lot more likely to accept bribes.

Probably some people think it is a good idea to have the inmates feel an "hard" prison , reasoning that it would discourage them from commiting crimes again.

Therefore it would seem logical to give any private entity control of a prison, given that it would certainly cut costs down to bare minimum survival condition and any amount of regulation would be useless, as it would cost a lot less to just corrupt the inspection officier.

Curiously this reasoning is "ok" for inmates, revealing many don't think they will ever enter a prison, but to visit some "black sheep" in their family...so why pay taxes for prison ?

Let the prisoner pay for the costs of his incarceration, some would think , as he was the one not respecting the law after all. This does make some sense, but with some limits worth another discussion.

Pracowity writes

If the rich aren't exposed to the same system the poor have to suffer, the system will never be improved.

Right, that's what asking favour to officiers exists for ..the rich, who have time and resources to become well connected, will find a way to have young Joe spend some time in a better cell for smoking pot...eyes will be closed, people rearranged. After all who wants to make enemies, except brainwashed soldiers and "gangstas" with warped senses of self esteem ?

Thinking that the "rich&powerful" will suffer the effects of inprisonment for longer then an handful of days is delusional, as no matter how many rules and tricks people will always find a way to reduce the damage, help the powerful sometimes for free.

It seems to me prison should be used to contain the (relatively) few violent offenders who have proved by facts and behavior they are likely to behave violently again. As for drug users it seems a detox hospital + counseling is better...whereas pushers should pay for soliciting and facilitating the consumption of toxic substances ; my guess is tobacco companies deny vehemently the smoke->cancer causal chain because they don't like to be seen as pushers..but that's another issue.
posted by elpapacito at 5:21 AM on April 29, 2007 [1 favorite]


Well hell, why can't they just pay a lump-sum and get out of jail completely? Say how many days of your sentence multiplied by... $150, or whatever, and you don't even have to see the inside of a prison wall. That'd be fair.

I mean, why bother to even try and change a system that's obviously being used in cruel and unusual ways? Pfft, stupid taxpayers won't go for it. Can't win, don't try.

Wonder if I can put it on my Amex Centurion card ...
posted by Talanvor at 7:46 AM on April 29, 2007 [2 favorites]


Of course, the nice thing about this is, if a prison is running a little short on funds, all they need to do is set aside some cells for extra protection and privileges, then make sure conditions get WORSE for the rest of the prisoners. Why, soon they'll be jumping to pay any exorbitant fee just to get out of the rape- and assault- filled "normal" conditions! It's brilliant. If the guards would manipulate prison rape just to make inmates understand how filthy and sub-human they are, just imagine what they'd do if they could do both that and make sure their jobs were more secure!
posted by InnocentBystander at 8:54 AM on April 29, 2007 [1 favorite]


Every time I think I've seen the extent of intellectual and moral bankruptcy that Libertarianism has to offer, this happens.
posted by Pope Guilty at 9:04 AM on April 29, 2007 [1 favorite]


I'm wondering, if an inmate pays for this service, but somehow still gets raped (Since that's what this seems to be boiling down to, a protection racket against rape), do they get a refund? Maybe they can sue the prison? Or do they just get released?
posted by Talanvor at 9:09 AM on April 29, 2007 [1 favorite]


They get free extra days and an issue of gaydar
posted by elpapacito at 9:33 AM on April 29, 2007 [1 favorite]


we even have the resources to institute complete equality with a communist government

Only Stalinists believe in a free democratic society with inalienable rights for all, regardless of economic station.

No wonder you guys are so big on China these days.
posted by dirigibleman at 9:39 AM on April 29, 2007 [1 favorite]


Of course better, safer jails are desirable for everyone, but the fact is, they're not available because taxpayers don't want to pay for them.

Of course these people ARE taxpayers and ARE willing to pay for a safer jail, just not for anyone but themselves.
posted by jopreacher at 10:21 AM on April 29, 2007


Every time I think I've seen the extent of intellectual and moral bankruptcy that Libertarianism has to offer, this happens.

what libertarians? ... did someone identify themselves as such?
posted by pyramid termite at 10:36 AM on April 29, 2007


Only Stalinists believe in a free democratic society with inalienable rights for all, regardless of economic station.

No wonder you guys are so big on China these days.


Stalinists don't believe in any such thing, and the people who are big on China are the businesspeople who want to profit from China's policy of "seriously, fuck the employed".

what libertarians? ... did someone identify themselves as such?

If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, and promotes the idea that you have exactly as much freedom and equality as you have disposable income to spend on, it's a Libertarian jerk.
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:48 AM on April 29, 2007


If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck

well, as long as you don't actually have to think about it ...
posted by pyramid termite at 10:55 AM on April 29, 2007


For all the responses to the "lib'rul" stereotyping in the thread, there sure are a hell of a lot of "libertarian" stereotypes being bandied about...
posted by the other side at 11:39 AM on April 29, 2007


here sure are a hell of a lot of "libertarian" stereotypes being bandied about...

Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America springs to mind.
posted by Pope Guilty at 12:18 PM on April 29, 2007


"libertarian" stereotypes being bandied about

this is what glibertarianism is all about: the dismantling and removal of our present collection of civic responsibilities & replacing them with a pay-for-play system of services.

Can't afford that operation? Too bad granny. Can't afford books for school? Choose better parents next time.

Do you really disagree with this proposition?

Look how many times Dr Steve or whatever the fuck his name was brings up taxation in this thread.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 3:20 PM on April 29, 2007 [2 favorites]


MPDSEA, of course, misses the central proposition:

1) There is no problem whatsoever with putting nonviolent offenders in a different housing unit than the (serially) violent offenders. I think that most people who aren't hurf durf reactionary conservative types would absolutely agree with this.

2) There is an enormous problem when that separation comes only with the application of money.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 4:53 PM on April 29, 2007 [1 favorite]


Indeed.

Another big problem, of course, is why those nonviolent offenders are in there in the first place. A whole lotta them were smoking pot, which is a damn poor reason for incarcerating someone.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:43 PM on April 29, 2007 [1 favorite]


Heywood: and look how many times people bring up equality. So what? I'm just saying that trying so hard to label people in the thread is antithetical to making a constructive point on the issue being discussed. Respond to the points not the supposed ideaology.
posted by the other side at 9:20 PM on April 29, 2007


if the label sticks, wear it.

I say this as an anarcho-socialist quasi-Georgist left-libertarian. . .
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 1:59 AM on April 30, 2007


Can I get Hilton Honors Points with this stay?
posted by Fupped Duck at 12:24 PM on April 30, 2007


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