Santa Clarita / Antelope Valley : 2 Inmates Recaptured After Escaping Prison

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Two San Gabriel Valley men secured themselves a place in the Antelope Valley's emerging prison lore, becoming the first convicts to escape the new state prison and the first to be recaptured, officials said Tuesday.

The two men, who escaped Friday night from the minimum-security barrack at the five-month-old, $207-million Lancaster prison, were captured separately, said prison spokesman Ken Hicks.

Hicks said prison officials are investigating how the pair escaped and ended up more than 80 miles from Lancaster.

Juan Isidro Maestas, 19, of Diamond Bar--who was serving a two-year sentence for burglary-- was arrested Tuesday before noon in El Monte by prison officers and El Monte police. Hicks said prison officials had received information that Maestas could be found there.

Jesse Adame, 20, of Rosemead, who was serving a four-year sentence for robbery, was arrested in the City of Industry on July 4 after a carjacking, Sheriff's Sgt. Mike Collins said. After a brief chase, Adame and a 17-year-old girl were arrested, but another suspect escaped. Earlier that day, Adame had attempted another carjacking in Covina, Collins said.

Both men, after being present for a 9:45 p.m. bed check on Friday, were found missing at the midnight check. Their minimum security barrack, which is designed to house about 100 inmates on work crew programs, is outside the security fences that surround the prison's medium- and maximum-security cellblocks.

Hicks said the barrack doors are not locked because of fire regulations. But the alarms on the doors were not triggered, and the corrections officer stationed in the barrack did not see the men leave. The barrack is surrounded by a seven-foot chain link fence without barbed wire.

The minimum security barrack for work crew members is restricted to inmates who did not injure victims in their crimes, who have no escape history and who have less than 30 months remaining on their sentences, Hicks said.

Both Maestas and Adame now face added charges of escape.

Asked the significance of the escapes, Hicks said, "I'm not going to comment on that. No escape is good."

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