Criminal Justice: Pay as You Stay

When he recently completed a 15-month rap at Michigan's Jackson state prison, Benjamin Ritholz boasted the rare distinction of having paid for paying his debt to society. Reason: Lens-maker Ritholz, who was convicted of trying to bribe the state optometry board, is a millionaire. And under a 1935 state law, Michigan requires rich prisoners to pay their way.

Michigan's unusual statute sets no standard for judging which cons are rich enough to pay as they stay; the law says that an inmate who "appears" solvent enough is subject to being charged the daily $4 to $9 that it costs the state...

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