Union workers are protesting a plan to shut down the guard towers at state prisons. Officials want to install high-tech fences with an alarm system, and get rid of the armed guards who stand watch along the prison fence, a move that’ll save one-and-a-half million dollars a year. Marty Frazer, vice president of the local AFSCME chapter for state prison workers, says it’s not worth the risk to public safety. Frazer says the money saved is only about one-third of one percent of the budget and he asks if that’s worth the risk.Frazer says an electronic security fence didn’t work at a prison in Alabama.Six Alabama convicts, including three murderers, used a broom handle to slip under the fence, and the alarm didn’t sound. A guard tower was nearby, but it was unmanned. Frazer says the state prisons in Anamosa, Fort Madison and Mount Pleasant house 17-hundred dangerous inmates who pose a danger to neighbors.Frazer says none of the prisons are isolated, all are near residential areas; there’s an elementary school across the street from the Anamosa prison; and there are two schools within five minutes walk of the prison in Mount Pleasant. He says keeping the guard towers manned just makes sense. Frazer and about 70 other prison workers picketed yesterday in Mount Pleasant, and plan more protests.
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