INDIO, Calif. - The John J. Benoit Detention Center is now set to open sometime early in 2019 several months behind schedule.
News Channel 3 is bringing you the first look inside the jail which will more than triple the number of beds currently available in the Riverside County Indio Jail.
Rob Field, Assistant County Executive Officer, says the jail is about a half-year behind schedule due to unforeseen issues on the site.
"We're putting about a 550,000 square foot building on a 250,000 square foot piece of dirt, so it's an extremely dense and complicated project," Field says.
It's also an expensive project with an original construction bid of $279 million.
Construction costs are now up to about $290 million.
With management and architecture costs, the total pricetag is up to about $330 million, making it the largest public works project in Riverside County history.
Its goal is to improve public safety and be a full-service correction facility now that the counties are being asked to do more.
Assistant Sheriff Jerry Gutierrez says the new jail will bring the county into the future with a facility that includes 1,626 beds at full capacity, along with important services like health care.
"This jail here will be the only jail we have currently with a full medical clinic built into it," Gutierrez says.
New features from health care to video visitation are designed to keep inmates in their housing units.
Gutierrez says less movement equals more security and lower cost.
Each housing unit will hold 192 inmates and there will be two people per cell.
When the jail first opens, only a couple of those housing units will be used initially.
Gutierrez explains, "The first phase will be to move the existing inmate population into this jail. That will be about 400 beds that are available."
The department needs to hire about 68 people to properly staff the jail just for the first wave of inmates.
So the "now hiring" sign is posted outside the jail with the department looking for people from correctional deputies to kitchen staff and everything in between.
Gutierrez won't elaborate on how long it'll take the department to have the jail fully operational, only saying it will happen in phases.
It's a big issue in the upcoming sheriff's election with challenger Chad Bianco insisting he would be able to have the jail fully operational much faster than incumbent Sheriff Stan Sniff has promised.