Pay-to-Stay Program Provides Option for Inmates

FREMONT, Calif. — The Fremont Detention Center offers an alternative incarceration option for inmates who wish to serve their time in a more private cell rather than serving time at the Alameda County Jail. This program, called Pay-to-Stay, is reserved for men and women convicted of misdemeanors such as a D.U.I. or indecent exposure. Anyone convicted of a felony is ineligible to participate in the program.

The program involves a fairly involved application process. Participants must possess a court commitment order that specifies the length of their sentences, as well as permission from the court to serve time at the Fremont Detention Facility rather than the county jail. Three required documents — the application, a form detailing the conditions for participation and an agreement to follow the rules and conditions of confinement — must be signed and sent to the Fremont Detention Facility.

Once an inmate is approved for the program, he or she must submit a one-time $45 processing fee, along with an additional $155 for each night spent in the detention center. A Tuberculosis screening test taken within one-year of the participant’s stay is required as well prior to incarceration at the Fremont facility.

The fee provides participants with cells outfitted with two bunks each. Additional amenities include games such as chess and solitaire and new flat-screen televisions. Participants have access to dayroom areas, showers and inmate phones as well.

This innovative program is new for the Bay Area. With no inmates convicted of felonies allowed to participate, the Pay-to-Stay program provides misdemeanor convicts with the option of serving time in a more secluded atmosphere. Program participants will all be housed together in separate sleeping pods — in other words, Pay-to-Stay inmates will only be housed with other Pay-to-Stay inmates.

Some argue that the program rewards richer convicts who can afford to stay in the nicer facility. Staff at the Fremont Police Department, however, believe otherwise. As Lieutenant Mark Devine said in a recent statement, “As far as being an unequal treatment [option] or jail only for the rich, I think it’s important to remember that there is a cost to providing government services and that cost where appropriate should be born by the people utilizing the facility or the program.”

The Fremont Detention Center contains 54 beds, 16 of which are reserved for the Pay-to-Stay program participants. Male and female participants are housed separately. Less than 15 people are arrested per day, according to Fremont Police, which leaves 90 percent of the facility’s beds empty. They are hoping that the Pay-to-Stay program will successfully fill the remaining beds.

The money raised from the program goes toward the city of Fremont.