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When Maryland Prisoners Escape from Cells, You'll Hear About It

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It was here at the razor-wire enclosed Maryland Correctional Institution at Hagerstown that a convicted murderer escaped last January. But the only way residents were notified was through a 1940s era steam whistle.

You could only hear it if "you really knew what you were listening for and really perked your ears," according to neighbor Mike Arnell, who lives about a mile from the prison.

Arnell said he heard about the prison-break on TV. After the escape, many residents complained to State Delegate Chris Shank, who says they didn't hear the siren or didn't understand it. The escaped prisoner broke into homes and stole jewelry from people during the five days he was on the loose.

Maryland's Division of Correction has since created an alert system. Anybody, whether you live near one of Maryland's 27 prisons or have a friend who does or are just curious for some reason, can sign up online to get an email, text message or phone alert.

The Division of Correction says the whistle at Hagerstown will continue to be used until it's so old that it stops working.You can sign up here to get these alerts.

Sabri Ben-Achour reports...

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