Pima County Jail escapee still on the loose

Published: Mar. 21, 2016 at 11:01 PM MST|Updated: May. 17, 2016 at 12:29 AM MST
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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - It's been two days since a Pima County Jail inmate walked away from her work release program in Tucson.

Sarah Herrera, 22, was serving her fourth day of an 18-day sentence when she disappeared while working at the Pima Animal Care Center (PACC).

[READ: Inmate escapes from work crew at Pima Animal Care]

The Pima County Sheriff's Department said it doesn't happen often, though this is the second time an inmate has walked away from PACC in about a year and a half.

Herrera may have been serving an 18-day sentence, but now can expect to spend a lot longer than that behind bars if and when they catch her.

"We want to apprehend her as soon as possible and face whatever charges do come with this," said Pima County Sheriff Lieutenant Elsa Navarro.

Navarro said Herrera had been serving time for misdemeanor trespassing and shoplifting when she walked away from the laundry at PACC where she was doing her community service.

Escape is a felony.

Navarro said the program uses only women inmates who basically have the same status as an inmate who goes out to work during the day and returns to the jail at night.

"We choose people who are low-risk, who are serving a jail sentence of less than 365 days, so less than one year. And we make sure that these inmates are aware that this is a position of trust and are willing to do what we've asked them to do," Navarro said.

The Pima County Fugitive Investigative Strike Team, or FIST, is searching for the escapee.

"We are trying to follow whatever leads we have. We've included listening to some of her phone calls and looking at who visited here while she was in the facility," Navarro said.

Navarro said the PACC inmate worker program and other work programs like it save Pima County taxpayers money while giving the inmates work experience.

Those who have been to the animal shelter have likely seen the inmates working there.

It seems to be a program the public supports.

"Any time I've come here the inmates seem very positive and very happy to be involved with the animals and they seem to get along with the animals very well. I personally support it," said Tucsonan Arik Streander.

Navarro said the department will review policies to see if anything must be done differently with the inmate program at PACC.

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