Prosecutor upset with honor farm escapes

STOCKTON - After another escape from the San Joaquin County Sheriff's Office's honor farm facility, a deputy district attorney is wondering why the most recent escapees weren't in a more secure facility.

"These are serious charges. Why they're at the honor farm is frustrating. My ability to prosecute is now nil until apprehended," Mark Ott said.

Ott was referring to inmates Melvin Rasberry and Matthew Cook. Rasberry has two strikes and his bail was set at more than a $1 million. Cook has one prior strike and his bail was at $500,000. Ott said both faced several charges of residential burglary and attempted residential burglary and should be considered dangerous.

The honor farm actually was a farm at one point, and the inmates there were not considered threatening if they got away. But these days in San Joaquin County, with a jail full of even more serious offenders, Deputy Les Garcia said the honor farm gets the rest.

"We're as frustrated as the D.A.'s office. They meet the criteria to be housed here at the honor farm, based on it being property crime or a traffic citation or narcotics," Garcia said.

Garcia said the sheriff's department has plans to add about $300,000 worth of security improvements which should be in place by November.


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