Press Release
May 24, 2011


Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago, chair of the Senate committee on revision of laws, said she will ask the justice department to send her a study paper on the feasibility of a "pay-to-stay" program in national penitentiaries, which should be available only to convicts sentenced for nonviolent crimes.

"We need to change existing laws, to separate maximum security from minimum security prisoners. Minimum security prisoners should be allowed to apply for a 'pay-to-stay' program, if they are willing to pay hotel rates," she said.

Santiago said that the "pay-to-stay" program is observed in the United States penal system allowing wealthy prisoners to be housed separately from other inmates, provided that they pay hotel rates.

Under the American program, prisoners are allowed private cells, work release programs, Ipods, mobile phones, and computers.

The senator said that "pay-to-stay" programs are implemented in most cities in California and are being considered for implementation in New York and Massachusetts.

When an American is arrested for non-violent crime in any county or state, he can ask the judge for permission to complete the jail sentence in a "pay-to-stay" program.

"The new law will disqualify any prisoner who has a history of violence, is a sex, drug, or arson registrant, or has a situation or condition that may endanger the health, safety, or welfare of the other 'pay-to-stay' inmates, or the jail staff," Santiago said.

She said that her proposed law should apply only to nonviolent crimes such as crimes against public interest, which include fraud, forgery, and falsification; crimes against public morals, including gambling and betting; and nonviolent crimes against property, such as theft and bouncing checks.

She said that the Beverly Hills jail in California has three different programs: straight time, weekenders, and the work furlough program.

Under the straight time program, the prisoner just stays in jail until he serves out his sentence.

Under the weekender program, the prisoner checks in on Saturday morning and checks out on Monday morning, until the sentence is served.

Under the work furlough program, professionals can go to work in the morning for eight hours, but have to be back in jail for the night.

Santiago said her new law will not apply to Antonio Leviste, because he was convicted of the violent crime of homicide.

But Santiago added that Bureau of Corrections Director Ernesto Diokno is entitled to an investigation by the justice department where he can explain his claim of innocence.

"The justice department should also ask Diokno why the subordinate officials in the national penitentiary find it irresistible to allow prisoners to live outside the jail. If the bribe offered is very high, then we should treat the malady at the roots instead of just lopping off the crown," she said.

News Latest News Feed