RIVERSIDE – Riverside County supervisors are expected today to authorize bidding to begin for work on the $274 million East County Detention Center in Indio.
County officials have already drawn up an approved list of prospective general building and electronic security contractors who will be able to compete for a chance to work on the jail expansion project. The Board of Supervisors signed off on the ”pre-qualification” list April 8. The contractor who meets criteria for being the ”most responsive and responsible” bidder will be selected.
The county is still awaiting state planning approvals for the 1,626-bed jail, so a groundbreaking date has not been set.
According to the Economic Development Agency, construction could begin before summer’s end, though early 2015 appears more likely. A demolition project to clear the space at Highway 111 and Oasis Street where the correctional facility will be located is underway.
The ECDC, which is expected to take about two years to construct, will replace the current 353-bed Indio Jail. According to EDA documents, the detention center will have an on-site health clinic, classrooms, recreation yards, a video visitation room, a full-service kitchen and a ”special housing unit” for inmates with ”conditions requiring separation from other inmates … and those with a need for healthcare support.”
The county received a $100 million state grant, which covers about a third of project costs. The balance of the tab will have to be picked up by the county, though additional grant funding is being sought.
The board has put jail expansion and construction projects at the forefront of countywide priorities due to concerns over ongoing inmate early releases and how that practice may be contributing to upward spikes in area crime.
The county has 3,906 inmate beds at its five detention facilities. But according to a report released in September, an additional 10,000 beds will be required over the next decade to keep pace with demand for correctional space.
The total number of early inmate releases in 2012 and 2013 topped 16,000. Under a 20-year-old federal court decree, the county must have a jail bed for every detainee or selectively release inmates to make room for incoming ones.
County officials argue conditions have been exacerbated by Assembly Bill 109, also known as the Public Safety Realignment Act of 2011. Under the law, so-called ”non-serious, non-violent” offenders convicted of felonies that do not stem from a sexual offense are to serve their sentences in local detention facilities instead of state prison.