MERCED, Calif. — Merced County Sheriff's officials say failures by staff
at the downtown Main Jail played a role in the escape of six inmates
from the aging facility in January.
Undersheriff Corey Gibson told members of the media Tuesday
that an administrative investigation showed the jail's graveyard shift
staff failed to properly secure the facility.
"I wish I was able to share all of that information with
you, but due to personnel rules and laws, I am unable to share that
information," Gibson said during the press conference. "I can assure you
we have dealt with those individuals accordingly and appropriately."
Since the escape, Gibson said the department has added
safety procedures and technology to help prevent similar incidents from
happening in the future.
The last two of the escaped inmates — Jorge Barron, 20, of
Atwater, and Manuel Leon, 21, of Vallejo — were captured Friday in
The six inmates were able to escape by accessing a
ventilation system and making their way onto the roof, where they used a
makeshift rope to climb down the side of the building.
Officials said all sheriff's resources were used in the
criminal investigation after the inmates escaped. The department reached
out to the U.S. Marshals Service for assistance.
Lasha Boyden, Acting U.S. Marshal for the Eastern District
of California, was on hand for Tuesday's press conference. Boyden said
law enforcement was able to arrest Barron and Leon in two separate
locations on the same day without incident.
"With all six escapees behind bars where they belong, our communities are that much safer," Boyden said.
According to Sheriff Vern Warnke, the Main Jail was built
in 1968 and is in desperate need of replacement. Part of the reason the
inmates were able to escape is because the aging building is falling
"We've got several million dollars in deferred maintenance
on this building but make no mistake, the general reason they got out
was because we had employees not doing their job," Warnke said.
"Had they been doing their job, regardless of the condition of that building, they would have not escaped."