Riverside County supervisors Tuesday approved a new round of funding for a program that covers the cost of taxi rides for inmates released from the Byrd Detention Center without enough money to pay their own way home.
Riverside Inmate Destination Endeavor, or RIDE, was implemented in June 2014 as a pilot program conceived by then-Supervisor Jeff Stone. The Board of Supervisors’ action Tuesday ensured another $100,000 in general fund revenue will be allocated to keep the program going.
According to sheriff’s department documents, 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.
Supervisor Marion Ashley said that Banning residents have recently voiced concerns about stranded inmates released from the Smith Correctional Facility, unable or unwilling to find a means to return to whatever community in which they were arrested.
“I’m not sure there are funds available (to implement a RIDE program) in Banning,” Ashley said. “But they should enjoy the same status as what we have at the southwest jail. What’s good for southwest is good for Banning.”
Supervisor Chuck Washington said he would support a RIDE program “wherever in the county” that it may be needed.
“I just worry about folding it into the larger sheriff’s budget and then having it get lost,” Washington said. “But communities expect us to do something about this.”
The board signaled an interest in revisiting the issue during budget hearings for the 2018-19 fiscal year budget.
At the time the program began, some residents and business owners complained that inmates released at all hours of the night from the Byrd Detention Center 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 as to 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.
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. He 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.