Riverside County supervisors are scheduled Tuesday to vote on whether to continue funding a program that covers the cost of taxi rides for inmates released from the Byrd Detention Center in French Valley when they don’t have enough money to pay their own way.
Riverside Inmate Destination Endeavor, or RIDE, was implemented in June 2014 as a pilot program conceived by then-Supervisor Jeff Stone.
During its policy agenda, the Board of Supervisors will decide whether another $100,000 in general fund revenue should be allocated to keep the program going.
According to sheriff’s department documents posted to the agenda, RIDE provided 1,976 inmates released from the Byrd Detention Center in the last fiscal year with vouchers for taxis. The vouchers are honored by the county when submitted for processing.
The average cost per ride was $46.88, and sheriff’s officials utilized three different transportation services.
The jail is located in an unincorporated area of the county, bordering Murrieta.
At the time the program began, some residents and business owners complained that inmates released at all hours of the night were loitering near their properties, sometimes behaving aggressively and committing crimes, mostly vandalism and theft.
Inmates are generally set free with no bond requirement when the county’s detention facilities exceed capacity. A 25-year-old federal court order mandates that the sheriff have a bed available for each detainee, or release jailed offenders to make room for incoming ones. Sheriff’s correctional personnel make a determination on whom to release on a case-by-case basis.
Between July 1, 2017, and June 30, 2018, a total 6,679 inmates were released from custody at the Byrd Detention Center, according to sheriff’s figures.
Supervisor Chuck Washington, who was appointed and later elected to represent the county’s Third District, initially voted to cancel the RIDE program in August 2015 based on his belief that the funds were not well spent. Washington reversed course a couple of weeks later after criticism from French Valley and Murrieta residents, and he led the vote to reinstate the program, which has received board support ever since.
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