SPECIAL REPORT: Riverside Board of Supervisors reinstates RIDE program for released inmates

Riverside County Sheriff's Office - Southwest Detention Center (courtesy)
Riverside County Sheriff’s Office – Southwest Detention Center (courtesy)

The Riverside County Board of Supervisors approved the reinstatement of the Riverside Inmate Destination Endeavor (RIDE) program providing free transportation home to inmates released late from the Southwest Detention Center jail.

Following a discussion on the effect of the recent discontinuance of the program on the criminal activity Murrieta’s French Valley area, led by Third District Supervisor Chuck Washington, Tuesday, the Board approved $100,000 to reinstate the program for another year. The motion to reinstate the program was approved in a four to one vote. Fourth District Supervisor John Benoit cast the only “NO” vote. A four member majority was required to pass the program’s approval because it was a budget issue.

READ: RIVCO: Board of Supervisors re-establish RIDE for released inmates

The RIDE program was first instituted by the County in June, 2014 after then Supervisor Jeff Stone told the Supervisors residents and businessmen surrounding the Southwest Detention Center in French Valley were filing numerous nuisance and property crime reports. Since then Stone has become a state senator and Washington was appointed by Governor Brown to replace him on the Riverside Board of Supervisors. The pilot program was discontinued on May 1.

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The program began after residents in the French Valley and surrounding Murrieta area argued that many of the inmates being released from the jail late at night had no money to pay for a ride. As a result they were seen late at night loitering outside of the nearby homes and businesses. One French Valley resident, in favor of the programs reinstatement, appeared before the board. She told supervisors that inmates had come to her door late at night and at local businesses asking to use the phone and for money.

Murrieta Police Chief Sean Hadden also appeared before the board to relay his support for reinstatement of the RIDE program. He cited several examples of inmates who had committed crimes in an around the detentions center after their release. He noted that after the program was discontinued there have been a number of “high profile” cases involving released inmates who had no ride home. He said the highest number of these incidents were in the Highway 79 and Hunter Road area not far from the jail.

Murrieta Councilman Rick Gibbs also made and appearance saying residents are again reporting released inmates wandering through neighborhoods “knocking on doors and asking for help.” He asked the board to reinstate the program.

After the pilot program started, inmates released from jail late at night, were provided a voucher to pay for a taxi or shuttle service to their home or a preferred location. The nuisance complaints quickly decreased in the area, according to Chief Hadden. He said since RIDE was discontinued a 5.7 percent crime decrease in the Murrieta area has been recorded.

Undersheriff William DiYorio, standing in for Sheriff Stan Sniff, told the board that the crime rate in Murrieta actually was about the same countywide and could not be directly attributed only to the inmates released from the Murrieta jail. In a report to the board, said while the data was not specific to the French Valley area, the property owners believed the decrease in crime was attributed to the RIDE program. He did say that the actual crime rate last reported to the department was up 15 percent countywide. There were conflicting crime rate reports submitted to the board in recent weeks.

Supervisor Benoit said he cast the no vote mainly because it was a budget issue. Because of the higher cost the RIDE pilot was not continued after May 1. The sheriff’s department reported that after 12 months the RIDE program cost $77,161, well over the original $25,000 allocated by the county. The Board of Supervisors, during the year, voted for additional appropriations in June and December of last year to cover those additional costs.

He said he believed the sheriff has a number of other programs like the Community Oriented Policing (COP) are addressing the increasing crime rates and the county does not have the money to continue the RIDE program at a cost of $100,000.

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