Reporting Andrea Menniti
STANISLAUS COUNTY (CBS13) – Inmates started fires at a Stanislaus County facility so they could be home for Christmas, according to the sheriff, but he has bad news for them.
“No, they are not going home for Christmas,” Sheriff Adam Christianson said.
The fires broke out at the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department Honor Farm. Christianson said a group of honor farm inmates started a pair of fires in hopes of being released early for the holidays.
“They have nothing to lose and have in their mind, if they burn down the barracks at the honor farm, that we’ll suddenly trigger the release 100-plus inmates,” he told CBS13 on Tuesday.
Christianson blames the state’s shift of lower-level inmates from prison to county jails for the brazen move. A quarter of the inmates housed in the county are state prisoners who know local cells are packed, he said.
“This is not a population that we would normally have to deal with,” he said. “These are state prison inmates and they’ve earned the right to be in state prison, and that’s where they belong.”
It’s believed inmates got their hands on a lighter to start the fires, one Saturday and another Monday night.
The blazes caused minor damage and staff quickly repaired the housing units so the inmates could return.
But not all inmates are going back to the low-security honor farm after the dangerous holiday hoax.
“We are probably not going to be able to prosecute anyone, but we can certainly adjust our housing requirements and some of the other things we do,” Christianson said. “We’ll make those adjustments to keep them on their toes.”