Inmates at the Stanislaus County Honor Farm intentionally set two recent fires in an attempt to get home for Christmas, Sheriff Adam Christianson said. “But they’re not going anywhere.”
The fires — one Saturday afternoon and the second late Monday — caused only minor damage and disruption to the facility, the sheriff said, crediting staff and firefighters with quick response.
“This is a direct result of realignment,” he said, adding that both fires were started by inmates who would have been in the state prison system if the Legislature hadn’t passed a law returning them to local custody.
The honor farm in Grayson wasn’t built for such inmates, Christianson said. It was intended to hold low-level offenders. “But I’m having to let the best of the worst go,” he said.
A new jail facility under construction by the Public Safety Center on Hackett Road will help solve the problem, replacing 192 beds lost in an honor farm fire in 2010. It will be more secure than the present honor farm, where friends and family have managed to get contraband — including lighters used in the recent fires — to inmates.
A second jail expansion will bring 384 maximum-security beds by mid-2016.
In the meantime, Christianson said, inmates have been shifted to other locations and procedures tweaked to prevent further fires.