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Coachella Valley left without a jail

The new Riverside County jail in Indio, the John J. Benoit Detention Center, will be an intake facility only for the time being.


The $330 million project with space for 1,600 inmates is now complete nearly two-and-a-half years behind schedule but the sheriff says he doesn't have the money to operate it in the face of potential budget cuts.


 "It's anywhere from a $17 million to an $80 million dollar budget cut," Bianco says.


The old county jail in Indio is now vacated, ready for demolition.

Bianco blames the economic shutdown and the board of supervisors for the cuts.

"Any cut that they give us, means that jail can't open," Bianco says.

He denies using the jail as a bargaining chip with the county in budget negotiations.

Right now, there is no jail in the Coachella Valley with the John J. Benoit Detention center being used only for intake and short stays like sobering up.

After that, prisoners are either released or transferred to one of the county's other jails.

"The construction of this jail was just a nightmare," Bianco says.
It was supposed to have been completed in December of 2017.  

Bianco says the delayed opening of the jail won't impact public safety in the short term but once the existing jails reach capacity, it will lead to inmates being released to make room for new inmates.

The new jail is named after former Supervisor John J. Benoit who passed away in 2016.

It remains to be seen when his vision for the jail may be fully realized.

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John White

John White anchors News Channel 3 Live at 5:00 p.m., 6:00 p.m., and 11:00 p.m.on KESQ-TV and CBS Local 2. Learn more about John here.

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