Riverside County Supervisors Fail to Assess Community Impact Prior to Proceeding with Jail Expansion

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On Monday, June 15, 2015, members of a local coalition focused on social justice issues called Alternatives to Jail Expansion, led by Starting Over, Inc., the fiscal sponsor of Riverside All of Us or None, will be convening to oppose the use of over $331 million from the Riverside County Budget for a jail project that will house almost 5,000 Riverside community members.

IMAGE: http://i.imgur.com/6gNscnR.png

Who: The Alternatives to Jail Expansion Coalition

What: Press Conference

Additional Information: For more information, please see our Call to Action and Frequently Asked Questions on Issuu.com at http://bit.ly/1FD4jDE

When: Monday, June 15, 2015: Noon-2:00pm

Where: Riverside County Administrative Bldg., 4080 Lemon Street Riverside, CA 92501

On Monday, June 15, 2015, members of a local coalition, Alternatives to Jail Expansion, will be convening to oppose the use of over $331 million from the Riverside County Budget for a jail project that will house slightly less than 5,000 Riverside community members. The Local Pooled Money Investment Board will meet on June 16 and hear Riverside’s request for Pooled Money funds. The Riverside County Jail expansions are contingent upon Riverside County Officials being able to secure funding from the Board of State Community Corrections (BSCC) that will add $100 million to this mega jail plan in the form of a state issued bond. The BSCC released their RFP on June 10.

“In spite of what most people think, the proposed Indio Jail expansion is not written in stone or blood. Palm Springs, was able to stop the county dead in their tracks when trying to squander natural and limited resources to build a jail there (Press Enterprise, 3/12/2012, http://www.pe.com/articles/county-645553-indio-jail.html). The urgency is not around the astronomical waste of hundreds of millions of dollars, but it is about the generational debt that we will be passing on to our children year after year after year, and all for a jail system that does not improve public safety nor address the underlying causes that lead to incarceration for too many people,” states Charles Johnson of Starting Over, Inc.

Based on the AB 109 Community Corrections Partnership Executive Committee Summary of Expenditures April 2015, budget FY 2014/15 (http://www.probation.co.riverside.ca.us/pdf/ccpec/CCPEC_June_2_2015_r1.pdf), Riverside County has dozens of community based organizations performing reentry services, yet most receive no funding and combined these organizations receive less than 1% of the County realignment funding to support people out of custody.

The coalition asserts that the county is leaving thousands of people homeless only to recycle through the jail system plumping up the need for jail beds at a significantly higher per bed cost than housing programs based on the Riverside County 2015 Point in Time report (http://riversidehomelesscounts.com/pdf_2015/2015_RiversideCountyPITCountReport.pdf).

“By investing just a fraction of the almost $400,000,000 projected costs and the $50,000,000 annual spend we could change the trajectory of countless lives and save Riverside County millions of dollar,” says Rosie Flores of California Partnerships and Riverside All of US or NONE . "We should invest in successes like the full implementation of Prop.47 and funding out of custody services. Safety net services are what’s needed, health care, education, economic development is what’s needed. Every investment made in these areas empties a jail bed, and it is much more efficient and cost effective. These are the things that helped me change my life. Jail Beds didn’t change my life, services did."

The coalition takes issue with the plan for more jails beds because of the recent passage of Prop 47 by voters in November 2014. Prop 47 funds will be made available for mental health, substance abuse treatment, and K-12 programs for at risk youth in 2017. The coalition contends that these investments will reduce the number of jail beds needed. The plans for expansion for more jail beds needs to be immediately halted because Riverside County created the plan for more jail beds before Prop 47 was enacted.

During the press conference, the coalition will demonstrate that Prop 47 is a game changer and its impact on communities should be considered. "If the planned expansions occur non-law enforcement county budgets will have to be slashed to divert county funds to the new jails. Every county service provider and agency should be staying awake at night thinking about where the cuts will be made. If they aren’t asking these questions now, they should be, because the money will have to come from somewhere and it is probably going to come from a budget that is already too small,” states Phyllis McNeal retired Parole Agent, and Director of the Straight Talk program.

The Alternatives to Jail Expansion Coalition members will be available for comment and will also be participating in a series of press conferences relating to proposed jail expansions and the associated fiscal concerns.


Media Contacts:

Marie Smith, Director Legal Advocacy Project, All of Us or NONE member: calegaladvocacyproject(at)gmail(dot)com, 424-279-4130, @legaladvocacypr

Vonya Quarles, Starting Over, Inc. Executive Director, All of US or NONE member: vonya(at)startingoverinc(dot)net, 951-898-0862, @rallofusornone

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Vonya Quarles
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