RIVERSIDE, Calif. — Riverside County is moving ahead with its plans  to expand the area’s jail facilities. On Dec. 17, Riverside County supervisors voted 4-0 to approve a $274 million budget for construction on the East County Detention Center (ECDC) in Indio. The board of supervisors signed off on the tentative ECDC spending plan as well as approved the hiring of a contractor to complete demolition work before construction begins, The Valley News  reported.
The board selected locally based Hal Hays Construction Inc. to manage preparation operations and to begin laying slabs for the future ECDC. The construction company was one of 26 contractors that bid for the work because they provided the “lowest responsive and responsible bid,” according to project documents. The site preparation project budget is $8.25 million. HOK, with offices across the country, is serving as the architect on the ECDC project.
This site preparation work will move ahead as planned, starting in early January, despite the fact that the construction timetable has yet to be finalized because of the various state planning approvals required before the project begins, according to Economic Development Agency (EDA) documents posted to the board’s policy agenda. EDA officials currently estimate that construction on the project will begin in spring 2015; however, the county is hoping to move faster with the design phase of the project, which could mean groundbreaking as early as July 2014. The project is expected to take about two years to complete.
The facility will have 1,626 inmate beds, a dramatic increase to the current facility’s 353 beds. The EDA documents state that the detention center will have an on-site health clinic, classrooms, recreation yards, a video visitation room, a full-service kitchen and a dedicated housing unit for inmates that require separation from other inmates.
About one-third of the project costs will be funded from a $100 million state grant. The balance will be paid from the county general fund, although The Valley News reported that officials believe a bond issuance would be the most appropriate funding method.
Riverside County currently has 3,906 inmate beds at its five correctional facilities — all managed by the Sheriff’s Department Corrections Division — and is one of the largest jail operations throughout the country. A report released in September 2013 said that an additional 10,000 beds would be required over the next decade. Under AB 109 , non-serious and non-violent offenders convicted of felonies that do not stem from a sex crime serve their sentences in local detention facilities, making it more difficult to manage the county’s inmate population.