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Inmates Release One Guard, Agree To Surrender, Warden Says

May 16, 1988

Undated (AP) _ STRINGTOWN, Oklhey were holding hostage, authorities said.

The inmates, whose rebellion at the Mack Alford Correctional Center began late Friday and resulted in $2.5 million in damages, agreed to surrender at 8:30 a.m. CDT Monday if the surrender is televised, Warden Ted Wallman said through a spokesman.

Prison officials agreed to that demand and a demand that state legislators observe the surrender, said the spokesman, Jerry Massie.

The guard was released in exchange for food and a meeting with three state legislators, officials said.

″We gave, them some pop, ice cream, and cigarettes and they talked to some legislators,″ Corrections Department spokeswoman Joy Hadwiger said.

The inmates, who hung bedsheet banners that called for ″White Power″ and accused corrections officials of lying as the siege stretched into a third day, released prison Capt. Lewis McGee, she said.

He was in apparently good health, she added, and the other hostages were also thought to be unharmed.

Anita Trammell, another spokeswoman for the prison, said earlier that no resolution was in sight with the inmates, believed armed with crude knives.

The prison administration for the first time Sunday night released a list of the captors’ demands.

Ms. Trammell said that besides the ice cream and cigarettes, the demands included having the electricity turned back on in their area, and having meetings with reporters and with Lou Bullock, an American Civil Liberties attorney who has helped prisoners in the past.

The inmates also asked for the return of a bus that was made available to take the inmates to a federal prison late Saturday as they requested, but left empty when negotiations broke down.

Late in the afternoon, two inmates took one of the guards outside for less than 10 minutes and talked briefly to correctional officers through a fence in a remote corner of the prison.

A prison spokesman said the guard appeared to be all right, as did the two other guards when they were spotted earlier in the day.

Ms. Trammell said the guard, identified as Sgt. Harold Yoder, was used a shield by the inmates who worked to close a hole in the fence cut by prison officials to help other inmates surrender.

She said the ho inmates who have been moved out of damaged parts of the prison said the hostage takers are ″ridiculous and crazy.″

Inmates also hung sheets with messages written on them from the roof of the two-story dormitory where the hostages were held.

The first sheet said ″White Power,″ while a second sheet hung later referred to the state Department of Corrections and said: ″DOC Will Not Respond to Demands. They Have Lied to You the Public and Press.″

Commenting on the first banner, Ms. Trammell said, ″I feel like the inmates did that for attention. Also, I feel like we have some racists up there.″

Of the three hostage guards, one is white, one is black and one is an American Indian.

There have been unconfirmed reports that a racial incident set off the violence at the 33-year-old prison late Friday.

Later, a third sheet was hung requesting help from the press, but small letters and shade made it impossible to read the whole message.

According to authorities, the uprising began when officers tried to move five inmates to a maximum-security prison. The five had reportedly threatened other inmates who allegedly had stolen from them.

The inmates then seized eight hostages; five hostages were released unharmed Saturday. One guard and one inmate were injured in the violence, which also caused about $2.5 million in damage.

It had been reported from the start that 10 inmates were actively involved in holding the guards. However, Ms. Trammell quoted the warden as saying the number was closer to 20.

Most of the prisoners who were routed from their dorms were transferred to other prisons. Corrections Department spokeswoman Joy Hadwiger in Oklahoma City said 150 were being held in a gymnasium area of the prison awaiting relocation, with 51 in the south dorm where the hostages were being held.

Carolyn Yoder, wife of one of the hostages, said earlier that authorities should use a special weapons and tactics team to end the standoff.

″Those boys are smart enough to know what they’re doing,″ she said. ″I’d feel a lot safer with them going in there to take my husband.″

The prison, opened in 1955, is located in southeastern Oklahoma about 130 miles from Oklahoma City. It has the sixth-largest prison population in Oklahoma with 652 inmates but has an operational capacity of just 492, corrections officials said.

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