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Oregon Court Rules Inmate Who Walked Away From Work Detail Did Not 'Escape'

Douglas County Sheriff's Office
Booking photo of Aaron Cadger

An Oregon appeals court has overturned the escape conviction of an inmate who walked away from a work detail at a county fairground.

However, the ruling in favor of the inmate doesn't mean the Roseburg man is off the hook. The case revolves around the definition of the crime of escape.

Aaron Cadger was serving a 60-day term in the Douglas County jail for a probation violation. One day he and a group of other inmates were taken to the local fairgrounds for a work detail. Cadger's job: Shoveling manure.

Something really started to stink when he didn't show up for a lunch break. Turns out, Cadger had hopped in his girlfriend's car and skipped town. He was arrested in California and brought back to Oregon, where he was convicted of escape, a felony.

But Cadger's attorney argued that under Oregon law, you can't actually "escape" unless you're inside a correctional facility. The Oregon Court of Appeals agreed. They overturned the felony escape conviction and ruled that a misdemeanor charge of "unauthorized departure" was more appropriate.

Oregon Deputy Attorney General Mary Williams says the state Department of Justice may ask the Oregon legislature to define escape more broadly.

On the Web:

State v. Cadger - Oregon Department of Justice