There’s an old saying from Orwell’s Animal Farm that rings true — “all animals are equal, but some are more equal than others.”
In 2010, Michael Keating of Seal Beach, while driving intoxicated, crashed his car and killed a classmate, Mai Hayakawa. Keating wound up serving 2-years for the murder — two years in a life of luxury, complete with a phone, DVD player, and full-sized refrigerator.
This, of course, was brought about by his family’s money. See, these prison cells — found throughout Seal Beach, Anaheim, Arcadia, Burbank, Glendale, Huntington Beach, Pasadena, Santa Ana, and Torrance — make sure that even when members of the aristocrat class do go to jail, they don’t rot like the rest of us.
For $72,000 — practically a steal — Keating’s family was able to cover an upgraded cell for their wayward scion, away from the general population, after he was indicted for killing Mai and driving while intoxicated.
Chiho Hayakawa, Mai’s mother, was floored to find out that Keating — who never did apologize for killing Mai — was able to get off so easily.
“I was so shocked,” she said. “I feel his solution comes from money.”
Isn’t that how most solutions happen in America?
For the nightly rate of $127 to $143, you too can afford the luxury of these cells. In some cities, the doors aren’t even locked, and prisoners can come and go to their jobs on a daily basis, like’s a hotel room.
Do you feel like storming the Bastille yet?
In Anaheim, inmates enrolled in the city’s pay-to-stay jail program are able to check out their own DVD players, and even have a nice gym that they can work out in. For $127 a night in Fullerton, you can get your own TV, telephone, and personal full-sized refrigerator.
Detective Laura Lomeli explained that, “if you don’t have the money, you’re not going to be able to stay” and that the cells are for “Good people who made a mistake, made a bad choice — and they have to pay the consequences.”
Peter Eliasberg, legal director of the ACLU in Southern California, summed this Kafkaesque absurdity up: “What a terrible idea. What a slap in the face for the concept of equal justice for all. If it’s a public service — that should be offered to everyone regardless of their ability to pay.”
I’m not calling for prisoners to be treated like garbage. We as a society have to honestly ask what we want prisons to do: do we honestly want rehabilitation, or are we strictly in it for retaliation? Is it to help fix people who are broken — or break them even more, until they can’t function? That, more than anything, determines how we treat them.
Right now, it’s not either. Sure, people in the system get ground to hamburger meat between the bureaucratic gears of our laughably antagonistic “justice” machine, but there’s only one thing that drives that motor, and as these “pay-to-stay” rooms show, it’s not lex talionis.
Watch a report below:
[h/t and cover image RS]