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Sheriff making honor farm more secure
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Once a political flashpoint in the hotly contested 2016 race for the role of San Joaquin County Sherriff, the Honor Farm has had its fair share of problems. 

From inmates that climbed the fence and ran away to those who just simply walked out, the facility adjacent to the San Joaquin County Jail has long drawn the ire of critics of the former sheriff who they feel neglected the complex as a way to save money in the department’s annual operating budget. 

But things have changed since Withrow took office. 

On Thursday the agency announced that a whole host of upgrades intended to cut down on the number of escape attempts – anchored by the installation of additional barbed wire, LED lighting, fencing that is “anti-climb” and additional razor wire at the top to deter any would-be inmates from trying to get away early. 

“We are excited about our new, additional fencing and barbed wire along with the LED lighting that has been installed at the Honor Farm,” San Joaquin County Sheriff Pat Withrow wrote on Thursday. “Is it enough? No – but it’s a start. I won’t be able to ask for more upgrades and security measures until I can craft my own budget request this next fiscal year. 

“Until then, I know that the men and women that work at the honor farm will do all in their power to maintain security at this neglected facility.”

While the Honor Farm was supposed to be a place for inmates convicted of less-serious crimes – non-violent and non-sexual, for example – to serve out their sentences under lighter restrictions, the AB109 realignment plan forced inmates that would otherwise be contained in the higher-security areas outside. 

And some of those inmates managed to walk away during the tenure of former Sheriff Steve Moore – either directly from the Honor Farm, or from work details somewhere in the community. 

According to the agency’s Facebook page, “every square inch” of fencing around the Honor Farm is outfitted with additional razor wire, and the goal of maintaining “the safety of the citizens of San Joaquin County” remains an ongoing priority. 

To contact reporter Jason Campbell email or call 209.249.3544.