Staff Report On Riverside County Budget and Jail Expansion Plan


This is the second virtual press conference that the ACLU hosted this week, in which many relatives of people who have passed away shared their stories. They demanded more transparency by the sheriff’s office, citing a policy of withholding names and suspected causes for deaths for many months.

Lisa Matus was Richard Matus’ mother and couldn’t confirm his death for more than a week. Richard Matus was finally able, two weeks later, to retrieve his possessions including privileged legal documentation after a court appearance. The grief-stricken relatives riverside county jail inmate search were frustrated that the sheriff’s department kept the information secret about the deaths, and that neither the county or the department had publicly acknowledged the increase in fatalities.

Additionally to withholding information from the public about the deaths, the sheriff’s department also evaded legal reporting requirements to state’s top cop. The Desert Sun recently reported that the department violated the law by failing to report at most two deaths to California Department of Justice within the stipulated 10-day period.

Even when the department reported, it did not report accurately. Allison Doubleday, administrative Deputy coroner, stated that all but one of these people had been sentenced by the time they died. Court records indicate that none of them have. The Desert Sun’s questions regarding the deaths have been ignored by the sheriff’s office for months. This includes questions about whether an investigation is ongoing to determine the reason why reports were inaccurate or late.

Sheriff Chad Bianco was called to court by the judge to explain that it wasn’t possible for the department to determine if someone was facing a third striking when it determined who to release to ease jail overcrowding.

However, records containing conviction histories are accessible to the public via the Superior Court clerk’s office. The advocacy groups and protestors read a list of demands Tuesday. They stated that the death investigation investigations are being monitored by another department to see if there is a pattern.

Janet Hunt, an outreach coordinator for Starting Over, Inc., which advocates for formerly incarcerated persons, said that she was there “to send a message to accountability.” Hunt said that “The sheriff must do his job” and that he had taken an oath. Hunt also stated that he was bound to respect and protect the rights of others. “These people deserve answers. They don’t get anything. It’s a shame. This is why we pay them to disgrace our own people.”

Justin Kail was the grandson of Louise Kail who died in May. She, along with several relatives of those who died in jail, shared their emails, letters, and complaints with the California Office of Attorney General and FBI, asking them to investigate and provide the information the sheriff’s office has not provided.

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