RIVERSIDE (CNS) – The Board of Supervisors Tuesday approved a $500,000 contract with a taxi service to sustain a subsidized ride program for inmates that ensures they have a means of returning home when they’re released from any Riverside County detention facility.
“We want to let our communities know that we’re supportive of this effort,” Supervisor Chuck Washington said ahead of the 5-0 vote in favor of continuation of the Riverside Inmate Destination Endeavor, or RIDE, program.
It was implemented in June 2014 as a pilot project conceived by then- Supervisor Jeff Stone. Since then, the board has approved funding for RIDE each fiscal year.
Until last spring, the program was only available at the Byrd Detention Center in French Valley, bordering Murrieta. However, the board voted to expand RIDE to all five of the county’s detention facilities, beginning in the current fiscal year.
With Tuesday’s vote, Sheriff Chad Bianco received the board’s authorization for a 12-month contract between the county and Finish Line Transport taxi service at a cost of $500,000, covering fiscal year 2023-24. The agreement includes the option to annually renew at the same cost until the end of 2026-27.
The revenue will be drawn from the county General Fund.
“The county jail facilities are all within walking distance to several housing communities and business centers,” according to a statement posted to the board’s agenda. “The RIDE program provides the sheriff the ability to pay for the cost of transporting released inmates out of the local community and to their residences, resulting in prevention of loitering and criminal activity in the community.”
According to sheriff’s documents, some of the 33,000 inmates released from the county’s lockups in the previous fiscal year were unable to secure their own rides home.
RIDE will provide detainees released in 2023-24 with vouchers — each valued at roughly $60 — to cover the costs of transit via Finish Line Transport.
At the time RIDE was initiated, some residents and business owners in French Valley and Murrieta 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 30-year-old federal court order mandates that the sheriff have a bed available for each detainee, or jailed offenders must be released to make room for incoming ones. Sheriff’s correctional personnel make a determination as to who gets released on a case- by-case basis.
Bianco said last month that the county’s correctional system is operating at maximum capacity.
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