One day last summer, a suspected Aryan Brotherhood prison gang member got hold of a cell phone and called a friend to break him out of a minimum-security conservation camp in Nevada City, Calif.
Once free, 36-year-old Jeffory Shook --"one of the most violent and dangerous suspects we've encountered in a long time," a sheriff in Placer County, Calif., once called him -- began a four-week crime spree, stealing cars and leading officers on dangerous chases through four counties.
No one was hurt in Shook's escape. But San Francisco police officer Bryan Tuvera was killed in a December 2006 encounter with a camp escapee. Tuvera's partner returned fire, killing the escapee.
While those escapes were unusual, the decision to let violent convicts serve part of their time working under light guard in neighborhoods and rural communities is not, according to an investigation by the Record Searchlight of Redding, Calif.