Riverside County Plans to Expand Jail Facilities

RIVERSIDE, Calif. — Talks are underway in Riverside County to expand the number of jail facilities in the area.

Supervisors Marion Ashley and Jeff Stone are presenting a proposal titled “Incarcerate More Prisoners Responsibly In Satisfying Overwhelming Need,” also being referred to as IMPRISON.

The plans include expanding the existing Larry D. Smith Correctional Facility in Banning, Calif., by adding an additional 400 to 1,600 inmate beds, according to a statement by the supervisors. Along with the immediate plans, there are also long-term plans being put into place, according to Riverside County Sheriff Stanley Sniff.

“The sheriff has identified, through his strategic plan, a need for an additional 4,000 jail beds by 2020 and a total of 13,500 by 2050,” according to the supervisors’ proposal. “It is imperative that the board develop a plan for short-, medium- and long-range capital projects to meet these needs and provide for the safety and security of our residents.”

Riverside County currently has five correctional facilities, all managed by the Sheriff’s Department Corrections Division, and is one of the largest jail operations in the state and throughout the country. Although the county has a number of correctional facilities, the number of inmates is increasing and space is becoming overcrowded, as with the rest of California.

Under AB 109, non-serious and non-violent offenders convicted of felonies that do not stem from a sex crime, serve their sentences in local detention facilities. Proponents of realignment suggested that jail sentences would be capped at three years, but that has not held true, as some inmates are serving terms in excess of 10 years, according to a statement by state officials in The Valley News.

The IMPRISON proposal calls for the priority expansion of the Larry D. Smith Correctional Facility and advocates the completion of the 1,250-bed expansion of the Indio Jail, or Easy County Detention. However, supervisors also suggested building out the Robert Presley Detention Center in downtown Riverside to accommodate another 900 beds, according to a statement.

To make more room in the county, supervisors also say there’s room to expand the Southwest Detention Center, or “Hub Jail,” as well as the Mid-County Detention Center.

The Hub Jail was already discussed back in 2011 but came up short of approval due to county tourism and hospitality interests as well as costs. However, both Ashley and Stone believe that the county should reconsider.

“The county should continue to pursue the Mid-County Detention Center (Hub Jail), completing all environmental and design work so that it is shelf-ready in the event state or federal grants become available in the future for new jail construction, separate and distinct from ‘jail expansion,’” the supervisors said in a statement.

With the IMPRISON proposal, the supervisors need board approval for the renewal of a subvention agreement with the city of Banning to offset impacts stemming from enlargement of the Smith Jail. The proposal also states that the city would receive $450,000 a year, with an annual inflation adjustment of up to 3 percent.