Under California’s realignment of prisons and jails, 28 counties are leveraging $1.7 billion in state grants to build and expand 35 jails, reports the Marshall Project. These projects will initially add about 12,000 jail beds in the state, says the Public Policy Institute of California. Many of the new jails are designed to accommodate future expansions that could significantly increase their capacity.
Riverside got $100 million to expand the Indio jail, which will cost more than $330 million to complete. The state made available another $500 million to subsidize additional jail projects, and Riverside officials plan to apply for an additional $80 million to expand another jail. “The purpose was to lower the number of incarcerated people, but it seems somehow that got lost in the translation,” said Vonya Quarles, a Riverside attorney and director of a local housing program for formerly incarcerated people. “They are not going to let those beds stay empty.” Although the violent crime rate in Riverside is lower than the state average, local Riverside prosecutors and judges have for decades sent a disproportionately high percentage of offenders to state prison.