Prison no longer NYC's cheapest room, part of nationwide trend

It used to be that you could get three meals a day and a roof over your head, as long as you committed a felony. Well, the days of being paid to pound out license plates are coming to a close. Now, any cash you make in the joint goes back to the joint. Local governments across the United States are considering fees for inmates as a way to offset falling tax receipts.

The programs vary from one municipality to the next, but the motivation is uniform. New York City, for example, is considering a bill that would require "wealthy criminals" to pay $90 a day for their hitches in the clink, in the hopes of chipping away at the $1 billion spent every year on incarceration. New Jersey is looking into much more modest fees for Camden County Correctional Facility, which is to be expected: everything's more expensive in Manhattan. The state would hit prisoners up for $5 a day to cover room and board and $10 per day spent in the infirmary. The measure would help the state recoup approximately $300,000 a year.