In this modern era of high-tech gadgetry and security, the Nebraska State Penitentiary still uses some tried-and-true, low-tech approaches to keeping inmates secure behind its walls and fences.
One case in point: the humble cable and pulley.
Alert observers driving by the state prison at 14th Street and Nebraska 2 might notice a taut cable running from the upper railing of each of the prison's nine perimeter towers to near the ground.
Officers in the towers, each of which is surrounded by a fence with a locked gate, have guns, and prison authorities don’t want them walking around the grounds with keys to the gates, Nebraska Department of Correctional Services Spokeswoman Dawn-Renee Smith said.
Being on the prison yard with such a key could make them targets for inmates inclined to escape, or simply cause chaos.
So, the keys are kept in the towers and when someone wants up, keys are lowered to them via the cable and pulleys.
“It is a system that certainly has been in place for a long time, and it works. So it continues to be used,” Smith said.
The cables also have been known to carry the occasional lunch or beverage to the top of the towers, she said.