A large number of French Valley residents have petitioned to stop the late night releases from the Southwest Detention Center.
Locals feel that letting inmates go during off-hours is placing them in danger. If they don’t have a friend or family member who can come pick them up, they isn’t a bus for them to hop on. Many of the former detainees are simply wandering the streets.
More than 520 signatures were sent to Riverside County Sheriff Stan Sniff in July. County Supervisor Jeff Stone is said to have first broached this subject about a year ago.
He feels that public safety needs to be the biggest concern. Dumping convicts in the middle of the night does nothing to preserve that, he said.
The widespread request seems fairly simple. Do not let people go if public transportation is not available.
At the current time, buses stop outside of the Southwest Detention Center every hour between 5:30 in the morning and 7:30 at night. The service only runs Monday through Friday. Public transportation is not available on weekends.
The Sheriff’s Department has reportedly not committed to making any changes but has said they are taking the request into consideration.
Residents say they are rightfully concerned. There has been an increasing number of former-inmates that are wondering the streets late at night. They congregate in parking lots, at gas stations and outside of retail stores. Some will even walk up to shoppers and ask for money and/or rides.
People who live in French Camp said they no longer feel safe.
Riverside County jails have all had a 24-hour release police for decades. It’s how things work at every other jail and has been the rule of thumb at the Southwest Detention Center since it opened more than 20 years ago.
Just because that is how things have been done in the past, residents say, it’s not to say it’s how things should be done in the future. The area surrounding the jail is no longer rural and it now contains many homes.
It is unclear when the Southwest Detention Center will make a final determination on the request.