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New Mexico Women's Correctional Facility
Ferguson takes a long drive from Albuquerque to this state women's prison near historic Route 66. Cold, harsh and sterile, the structure features lots of concrete construction. Plenty of safety glass allows supervision of 560 female prisoners from central areas. No part of the prison, including bathrooms, is off-limits to guards, even male staff.
New Mexico Women's Correctional Facility is a multi-security prison. Three different populations -- minimum, medium and maximum -- are incarcerated at the institution, and they must be kept separated. Without experience, Ferguson has a hard time keeping medium-security inmates (in red uniforms) away from minimum-security prisoners (in blue).

Ferguson's other duties as a guard include processing new inmate arrivals and troubleshooting a malfunctioning circuit board that unlocks cell doors. In no time flat, he goes from entertaining clients at his company's luxury box at a pro football game to disinfecting showers in the maximum-security wing. One inmate, serving 39 years for murder, is delighted with her new guard. "You missed a spot," she jeers. The one task Ferguson hates the most, though, is paperwork. The guards must keep meticulous records about what goes on in the prison, and they have very few computers to help them with the task.

Next: Cost Cutting Takes its Toll >>>

John Ferguson tries to figure out the electronic control system.
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