Our clients who face serving time in county jail often ask about private jail. They may be concerned about being assaulted by another inmate or recently picked-up inmates, often drunk or intoxicated by drugs (or gang members), or they just wish for a single, private cell where they can safely sleep without worries. They may have heard about it when first arrested and always ask as if private jail is some type of urban legend that really does not exist.
The Gist of This Article: Private jail is a local city jail that charges for one to stay there instead of in the tumultuous, often more dangerous county jail. Some jails allow those in custody to leave to go to work and return to jail after work, as if returning home for the night.
Private jail does indeed exist throughout Los Angeles and Orange County. Riverside County does not have private jail at all and in fact, in these tough economic times, Riverside County has recently proposed charging all its inmates for their stays in their county jail.
Private jail is often is only available for males and most private jails require proof of a recent negative TB (tuberculosis) test to ensure no one is infected by this contagious sickness. Some jails actually test the applicant for TB before they admit the individual. One may also be disqualified if he or she has a conviction for any serious felonies, especially those involving violence.
Private jail is most often sought in second-time DUI’s when one must serve at least 96 hours in county jail, although our office has had clients serve their time in private jail for much longer terms. In Los Angeles County, Torrance, Pasadena, LaVerne, Pomona, Huntington Park, Montebello, Monterrey Park, Redondo Beach, Hawthorne, San Fernando, Monrovia, Burbank, Culver City, Gardena, Glendale and Hermosa Beach police department offer private jail. In Orange County, Seal Beach, Huntington Beach, Anaheim and Fullerton offer such a program.
Private jail is never a right. Your attorney must ask the judge for his or her approval of serving time in private jail, although such approval is almost always given. Judges are well aware that private jail is quite expensive (exception: the City of Hawthorne offers private jail and it was and may still be free) and that you will likely be put to work washing police cars, folding laundry or even cleaning dishes. You will often be allowed limited phone calls from your cell as well. Often times, you cannot receive any visitors during your stay.
The fees charged for private jail vary widely, but first usually include an application fee. These fees vary from $270 to stay at the LaVerne, Burbank or Gardena jail to no application fee at the Redondo Beach, Hermosa Beach, Torrance, Anaheim, Montebello, Hawthorne, Huntington Beach, Culver City or Glendale jail. When an application fee is charged, the average fee is about $75.
The fees for staying vary from $238 per night at the Hermosa Beach Police Station jail to $45 per day at the LaVerne jail (the least expensive). Some jails such as the Anaheim Police Department charge a higher fee ($125 for the first day) and then a lower fee ($85) for each day thereafter. The average fee per night seems to be $110. It is not free or really, even inexpensive. It is the cost of a moderately priced hotel.
Some private jails will allow the inmate to leave for work during the day, with strict rules that the person return straight to the jail after work, only to leave again the next morning. Once back at the jail, one sleeps in a cell, in a modest bed with a thin mattress, in a locked cell with a concrete floor and a simple toilet nearby. It is still jail.
If you are interested in private jail, our office has compiled a list of jails offering “private jail” with phone numbers, the fees charged and any other information you might need to make your choice between private jails. It is best to make a reservation at the jail of your choice well before you decide to serve your time, as if making a reservation at a hotel.
For more information about serving time and post-conviction relief, click on the following articles:
- What Is House Arrest As an Alternative to Jail?
- What Is Summary Probation?
- Court Rules That, in Drug Case, a Probation Condition Is Proper That Someone Not Associates with Others He Has Reason to Know Are Drug Users
Greg Hill & Associates