Board Vote Sets New Direction on Jail Plans Benoit, Ashley Propose Expansion of Jail Beds in Indio, Riverside
RIVERSIDE – The Riverside County Board of Supervisors unanimously agreed Tuesday to pursue smaller, cheaper jail expansion plans and took steps to remove the regional detention center as the No. 1 priority in the county’s capital improvement plan.
The public hearing to reprioritize capital improvement projects and re-examine the county’s jail expansion plans is scheduled for the May 3 Board of Supervisors meeting in Riverside. Tuesday’s 5-0 vote directs the Executive Office to update the capital improvement plan in light of the county’s fiscal crisis and re-evaluate plans for jail expansion.
Benoit and Ashley both recommended that current plans for a proposed regional detention center be tabled in favor of jail expansions near existing facilities.
“There was a $300 million mountain to climb in Whitewater before the first jail bed would be occupied,” said Supervisor John J. Benoit. “Expanding near existing county jails in Indio and Riverside will achieve additional jail beds sooner and at much reduced cost.”
The regional detention center’s preferred location was in Whitewater, where massive infrastructure would be required up front to develop the site.
“Today’s action makes a lot of sense, especially in light of the deteriorated economic situation since we first looked at the hub plans several years ago,” said Supervisor Marion Ashley. “We don’t want to take up all our bonding capacity when we have so many other pressing county projects.”
The Indio Jail has 354 jail beds, representing about 9 percent of the county’s 4,100 jail beds. The Coachella Valley has about 20 percent of the county’s population.
“Expanding the Indio Jail deserves a good look,” Supervisor Benoit said. “When it comes to reasonable alternatives, no options should be left off the table.”