Inmates pay to stay at city jail

The Glendale Police Department jail has collected more than $1.5 million in fees associated with inmates who opt to pay to stay at the facility.

The $1.58 million in inmate fees generated by the pay-to-stay program since it began in 2008 has helped offset operational costs, according to a recent report presented to a police advisory committee.

“The savings gets rolled back, initially, to the taxpayer,” Jail Administrator Juan Lopez said. “The local taxpayers can find confidence in the fact that their money is being utilized.”

In the past two years, more than 17,000 inmates have opted to pay a fee of $85 per day to serve court-approved sentences in the department’s jail, which can be a major step up from crowded Los Angeles County facilities.

At the Glendale jail, pay-to-stay inmates get their own cells that are separate from the cells used for daily bookings.

Revenues generated by the program dropped to nearly $68,000 last year from $71,655 in 2010 because more inmates were choosing to go to Los Angeles County jails, according to a report.

The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department has been forced to release low-risk inmates earlier due to overcrowding.

“Unfortunately, the county’s woes become ours,” Lopez said.

While celebrities, including actor Kiefer Sutherland, and top movie executives have paid to stay in the jail, they are not given special treatment, he added.

Judges in other states, including Arizona, Nevada and Utah, have allowed some Los Angeles County residents to serve their sentences in the Glendale jail, Lopez said. If an L.A. County resident is arrested or convicted out of state, they can ask the judge there for permission to stay in the Glendale jail.

Pay-to-stay inmates are required to work in the jail during the weekends, which Lopez said helps keep the facility clean.

Inmates serve as few as four days in the jail and up to six months, Lopez said, although most jail stays have been for shorter sentences.

Meanwhile, the booking recovery fee program — another practice the Police Department uses to recover operational costs — has generated $32,130 since that program started.

The program, which was established in 2010, assesses fees to all inmates who are booked and released from the city jail. If inmates are convicted of the crimes they were jailed for, they must pay a booking fee.

Booking fees also are assessed to inmates who were arrested by other law enforcement agencies and taken to the Glendale jail.

The program’s earnings are difficult to forecast because court sentences fluctuate.

“It’s not anything that we set any hard and fast targets on,” Police Chief Ron De Pompa said.

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