There are three general levels of prisons in the U.S.: minimum, medium and maximum security. A minimum-security prison might look more like a college campus. The prisoners there are usually nonviolent offenders with relatively clean criminal records. Sometimes, a prisoner who committed a violent crime may transfer to a minimum-security prison from another prison if he's nearing the end of his sentence and has shown exemplary behavior. Medium-security prisons hold more dangerous criminals and have more restrictions on inmates. They're usually surrounded by barbed wire and maintain a greater degree of control over the daily lives of the prisoners. Maximum-security prisons hold the most violent criminals, those who have tried to escape from a lower-security prison or those who might cause some kind of problems in a lower-security facility. Maximum-security prisons not only have the razor wire fences but they also have towers with armed guards who are empowered to shoot anyone who makes it over the wall.
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