Riverside County Denied More State Funding

BANNING, Calif. — A past award to expand the Indio jail stopped Riverside County’s effort to attain $80 million more in state funding this year to renovate the 1,520-bed Larry D. Smith Correctional Facility in Banning. County officials want to renovate 384 beds at the facility as well as add a 100-bed special needs housing unit and medical clinic, according to The Press Enterprise.

While the renovation would not add capacity to the jail, it would help the county better serve the needs of the long-term inmate population serving time at the facility as a result of the state’s public safety realignment initiative passed in 2011. Realignment sent low-level offenders to serve multiyear sentences in the county’s five jails, which were not set up to house these inmates.

In 2012, the county received $100 million from the state to help pay for a $330 million expansion of the Indio jail, which will be renamed East County Detention Center when completed in 2017. The detention center will replace the existing 353-bed Indio jail and will add 1,273 inmate beds to the county’s current inventory of 3,906.

The county hoped the Board of State and Community Corrections would approve its bid for $80 million; however, it had to compete with 32 applicants seeking $1.2 billion. Each application was subject to a grading system. The board of law enforcement officials from cities and counties across California awarded $500 million to 15 counties seeking to improve their jails, but Riverside County was left out this time.

Board of Supervisors Chairman Marion Ashley told The Press Enterprise that the county plans to apply for funding for the Larry Smith facility again next year. However, the county will already need to hire about 400 corrections officers and support staff to accommodate the Indio jail expansion, which could cost about $50 million a year once the facility is completed in 2017.

When the Indio facility is completed, the county should have about 5,179 inmate beds; however, a report released in September 2013 said that the county would require an additional 10,000 beds over the next decade.