According to the Nevada Department of Corrections, two inmates walked away from their assignments through the Stewart Conservation Camp on Wednesday afternoon. Dustin Cottiero and Corey Gomez were part of a Nevada Division of Forestry crew working near I-80 between McCarran and Robb Drive. Authorities are still looking for both men, and ask that public call 911 if you spot them.
It's not the first time a Conservation Camp inmate has escaped, but authorities say escape attempts are very unusual. "They're qualified for the program and they're close to release," says Pete Anderson, Nevada State Forester-Firewarden, "so, you know, if they walk away from a job there's consequences to that." He says there are 900 to 1,000 Conservation Camp inmates working throughout the state on any given day.
"These inmates are minimum security inmates," says Anderson, "they are convicted felons but they're non-violent and screened very heavily by Corrections before they come to our program." They are still prisoners at night, but employees by day. The Division of Forestry uses the low risk offenders to reduce fire fuels, and rehabilitate burn areas. The work crews are also hired out to other state agencies for labor project. The program saves the state money while helping inmates get employment experience before their release.
An unfortunate risk of the program is escape. With just 1 supervisor to 12 workers, their policy is not to try to stop prisoners who attempt to run. Instead, they immediately contact local law enforcement for assistance. If you spot Cottiero or Gomez, please call 9-1-1 immediately.