Many residents in the Minneapolis suburb of Shakopee live near a women’s prison housing 79 murderers, 15 robbers, eight burglars, and five arsonists. They oppose plans to erect a fence around it, says the Associated Press. “It’ll change the whole perception of people who come through,” said one prison neighbor, Dave Hart. “They might as well put up a sign, ‘Welcome to Stalag 13.'” Prison officials say growth in the prison population, including more dangerous female offenders, requires more than a hedge. They want a $3 million to $5 million double fence, complete with video cameras and motion detectors.
Warden Rick Hillengass says Shakopee may be the nation’s only prison housing violent offenders without a fence. James Gondles, director of the American Correctional Association, agrees. About a third of Shakopee’s 500 inmates are doing time for violent crimes such as homicide, assault, sexual assault, and robbery. It’s getting harder for prison guards to watch every inmate on the grounds during 5-minute periods when the doors are unlocked. The last two escapes happened last year when the doors were unlocked to allow inmates to move around. Both women — one convicted of aggravated robbery, the other a repeat drunk driver — took off running. They were recaptured without incident.