FRENCH CAMP (CBS13) – Four high-risk inmates have escaped from the honor farm facility in San Joaquin County in just 10 days’ time, and they weren’t supposed to be there.

Neighbors in French Camp say inmates escaping the facilities in their neighborhood is a regular occurrence.

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“We were scared the first few years we lived here but now it’s like, it’s okay,” a neighbor said.

The San Joaquin County Jail and honor farm facility normally house low-level offenders. Now four inmates have been re-arrested for trying to escape the low-level security facility in just a matter of days, the latest escape was Thursday.

The four inmates who attempted escapes are serving sentences for crimes ranging from felony gun charges to selling drugs. The sheriff’s office says more inmates who should be serving time in state prison are being housed at this facility.

“Because we have such an abundance of inmates from the CDCR facility, we have to push them somewhere,” said Deputy Sandra Mendez with the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Office.

The sheriff’s office says there’s no room in the county jail and CDCR is limiting intake at state prisons because of COVID exposure.

Now some neighbors worry the state is putting their safety at risk, and putting the health of inmates first.

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“It’s always kinda scary when people escape because you don’t know what’s going on,” said one neighbor.

The sheriff’s office says the honor farm facility and staff are not equipped to handle more of these inmates. Honor Farm does not have armed guards watching the inmates’ every move, and now corrections officers are required to work mandatory overtime.

CBS13 is learning this is putting a strain on the department.

“It would not have happened in the past but it is happening now,” said Deputy Mendez.

The CDCR inmates are separated from the regular Honor Farm inmates, watched more carefully and are required to wear an ankle monitor.

CDCR says intake of inmates has been impacted this past year, it has resumed on a limited basis most recently last month. CDCR says it’s prioritizing counties that have the biggest space issue.

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Here is the full statement from CDCR:

“We have taken necessary actions to respond to the effects of the pandemic in the state’s prisons in a way that prioritizes public safety and public health, as they are paramount. While intake of jail inmates sentenced to prison terms has been impacted in the last year, it has resumed on a limited basis on three separate occasions, most recently on January 11, and is currently ongoing. Intake is being prioritized for those counties identified as having the greatest need in terms of space, and we have transferred 6,100 inmates from county jails—more than 330 of those from San Joaquin County—since the pandemic began. We understand the toll the pandemic has taken, and we continue to work with our law enforcement and health care partners to continue intake in the safest manner possible, and ensure we minimize impact to county jails. CDCR will continuously evaluate this process and will increase, decrease, or suspend intake in accordance with health care and public health guidance.”

Marissa Perlman