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Judge Declares Emergency at Angola Penitentiary Because of Escapes, Murders

June 22, 1989

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) _ A federal judge has declared an emergency at the state penitentiary at Angola in the wake of 11 escapes, four fatal stabbings and four suicides in 14 months.

U.S. District Judge Frank Polozola, in an order signed Wednesday, appointed Ross Maggio Jr., a former warden, to oversee an investigation. Polozola ordered U.S. Attorney Ray Lamonica to conduct any necessary criminal or civil investigations.

The judge noted that the 11 prisoners who escaped since April 1988 were serving long-term sentences for serious crimes, including murder, rape and kidnapping. Ten have been captured.

″While the court understands escapes will occur in a prison, it appears escapes at the Louisiana State Penitentiary are occurring on a more frequent basis and are beginning to affect the lives and property of the general public,″ Polozola wrote.

The judge said some prison deaths apparently resulted from drugs and weapons being smuggled into the prison, where the weapons were used to retaliate against those who failed to pay for the drugs.

Warden Hilton Butler said he has a good record of keeping violence at Angola to a minimum, noting there have been only three murders this year.

″There were three murders in one night under Maggio,″ Butler said. ″When everything is dug out, you’ll find out my record is better than the man who’s investigating me.″

″I think the judge is sincere, but he’s getting bad information,″ Butler said.

Corrections Secretary Bruce Lynn said Wednesday he and Gov. Buddy Roemer met with Polozola several weeks ago and again last week to discuss the prison.

Roemer approved of the appointment of Maggio, an aide said.

Maggio, 50, was warden in 1976 and 1977 and from 1981 to 1984. He said by telephone from his home in Florida that he would resign from his job with a private security company there and move back to Baton Rouge.

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