When a convicted murderer escaped last January from one of Hagerstown's three prisons, the prison told the media, but used a steam powered whistle to notify residents. The whistle was from the 1940's. A lot of people couldn't hear it or didn't know what it was.
Michael Stouffer is commissioner of Maryland's Division of Correction, he says there are far better ways to notify the public now. So now, anyone - whether they live near one of Maryland's 27 prisons or not - can sign up to get an email, text, or phone alert. It won't tell you what crime the person committed, but will give identifying characteristics.
You can sign up here.