Michigan’s prison guard towers aren’t guarded like they used to be, says the Detroit News. Once a fixture of prison security, the towers are empty more often, as improved technology andshrinking budgets make them as obsolete as corner telephone booths.
Detroit’s two prisons became the last of Michigan’s 34 prisons this past summer to end around-the-clock tower guard duty. While gun-toting officers keep an eye out while prisoners move around the facilities, the towers are no longer the prisons’ main line of defense against escapes. “It was a difficult decision,” said Russ Marlan, spokesman for the Department of Corrections. “But corrections has evolved and technology has improved.” The change was implemented over the past two years to save money as the department saw its budget cut. The move to rely more on high-tech surveillance follows a national trend as cash-strapped states look for ways to cut costs. Said one man who lives near Detroit’s prisons: “They should be manned. Anyone could walk in and out because they (guards) are not there. It’d be safer with guards in the tower.”