“PAY FOR STAY” IN JAILS: A Commentary
Interviews from inmates received directly from jails yield a veritable enumeration of practices which otherwise would project a semblance of acceptability if not considered already a constituted rule despite the fact that it is mostly unwritten.
Inmates awaiting judgment from courts, those who cannot bail, those with unbailable cases are mixed with those who are already sentenced and awaiting court orders for transfer to the penitentiary. Transfer of sentenced prisoners however depends upon the fiduciary posture of the jail concerned. If there are no funds available yet for the movement of prisoners, the offenders stay in jail for a period of time.
Jail condition while terribly congested than penal establishments are still preferred facilities of most inmates. This is because of the proximity of the facility with their community of orientation. Family, friends and peers who are from the area can easily visit and sustain the requirements of their incarcerated loved one. Further on, an inmate can secure a “pass” from his custodian for an escorted (at times unescorted) furlough for a day or two back to their neighborhood or homes. Further more, there is gross familiarity and camaraderie since the custodian may be a relative, a peer or friend (if not a family member) of the inmate.
Since transfer of a convicted inmate entails a fearful period of adjustment, a stretch of agonizing trip into the unknown, severance to familiar sights and friendships forged in jail, anticipated brutality to be experienced as stories from rearrested ex-convicts would be insinuated, the cost is not high enough if transfer would be halted if not intervened. This is where an inmate would submit and transact for what has been referred to as “pay for stay.” An inmate would try to cajole, haggle, court even bribe his custodian for some promises or considerations so that his transfer would be postponed.
Although there is no formal inquiry conducted on this issue, the empirical presumption may hold that it exists.
Hence, there are several cases where inmates would be brought to the penitentiary nearly completing the entire stretch of his penalty.
Formally, there is no such thing as Pay for Stay although traditionally it has been a silent practice incumbent in some jails.