Looking out through the windows of the school bus, it's hard to tell whether the Eagle's Nest Women's Shelter is a prison, an asylum, or a refuge. The two-story building--long and narrow, its red brick refurbished seven years ago--looms over a quiet corner just a few blocks from downtown St. Paul. A sturdy chain-link fence, with a wide gate that locks at dusk, surrounds the manicured lawn. Wire weaves through steel window bars and a rusty security phone hangs outside the front door fashioned from thick glass and steel. There's rarely anyone outside on the steps. When there is, they're usually wearing an ID badge and smoking a cigarette. Since Eagle's Nest is one of the last stops on today's after-school route, when 7-year-old Cynthia and her 4-year-old sister Kristen hop off the bus they leave behind only a few classmates, the tops of their bobbing heads barely visible as the driver pulls away from the curb. After a last wave goodbye, the two skip down the cracked sidewalk, slip through the gate, and wait to be buzzed into the... More >>>