Several decades ago, when they were young, 229 men and one woman were convicted of terrible crimes—murders, rapes, robberies. They thought they were going to die in prison. They were supposed to. But then, just a few years back, Merle Unger Jr., one of the most notorious escape artists of our time, discovered an ingenious (and legal) way to get them out. It was an unimagined second chance for them—and a nerve-wracking experiment for everyone else.