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Jessberger sent to Pre-Release after being convicted in Animal Cruelty Case

The on-going case of Thomas Jessberger, the man who operated the Rocky Acres Horse Sanctuary, took yet another unexpected turn last week. As of Wednesday, July 6, Jessberger has taken up residence at the Pre-Release Center in Butte.

In January, Jessberger was sentenced to 12 years with the Department of Corrections, when he pled guilty to more than a dozen counts of felony animal cruelty.

Jessberger was accused of starving and mistreating over 30 animals that were in his charge at the sanctuary, located just north of Townsend. The former Townsend resident has an extensive criminal history, including two counts each of felony forgery and theft, and one charge of bail jumping.

Montana DOC describes the Missoula Assessment and Sanction Center (MASC) as a facility designed to identify comprehensive risk and needs for male offenders. The center also provides short-term treatment in criminal and mental health thinking, while providing placement for offenders who have violated the conditions of their supervision. While in Pre-Release, the offender is required to obtain and retain employment and pay for Pre-Release services and housing.

In the Montana DOC 2015 Biennial Report, Mike Batista, DOC Director, states offenders are sent to the Department of Corrections from courtrooms in every corner of the state as punishment for the crimes they have committed, and to protect society. Additionally, the executive summary claims, on average, offenders serve a little over two years in prison before returning to the communities in which they got into trouble.

That may not be the case for Jessberger. A final sentence was pronounced in Judge Reynolds' courtroom on January 29, 2016. However, Jessberger was transferred to the Missoula Assessment and Sanction Center and Pre-Release program less than 5 months after being sentenced to the Montana Department of Corrections. Jay Grant, the Butte Pre-Release Program Director, said MASC received Jessberger's file from DOC and after review, they accepted him at the MASC facility.

According to the DOC officials, The Missoula Assessment and Sanction Center, and the Butte Pre-Release Center made the decision, in a process of evaluations, by both Departments. Requests for comment were made to the Montana Department of Corrections Probation and Parole Office, and to Jessberger's caseworker. However, questions asked of those offices remain unanswered.



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