ATLANTA — Two busloads of Cuban prisoners left the federal penitentiary today for other prisons, hours after protesting Cubans freed their 89 hostages and ended their 11-day uprising in return for a moratorium on deportations of all Mariel detainees.
Bureau of Prisons Director Michael Quinlan said in Washington that authorities began to re-enter the prison about noon, 11 hours after the former hostages streamed out of the prison to the embraces of their families.
Federal agents said each of the 1,104 inmates would be searched, positively identified and taken to a local airport where they will be transferred to 47 other federal prisons throughout the country.
Justice Department spokesman Patrick Korten said the processing could take as long as 24 hours. The first two buses left the prison about 1:44 p.m.
Burden on System
Korten said the transfers will burden a federal prison system already 50% over capacity and may result in the early release to halfway houses or the early release of some inmates.
No trouble was reported by wary FBI agents and guards concerned about the behavior of about 200 convicts who opposed the Thursday afternoon settlement that led to the release of the hostages and the end of the prison takeover.
"You probably have as many as a couple of hundred inside who were markedly unenthusiastic about the settlement," Korten said. "We'll be wary. We'll be careful going in."
Korten said Atty. Gen. Edwin Meese III, FBI Director William S. Sessions and J. Michael Quinlan, director of the Bureau of Prisons, would come to Atlanta this afternoon to tour the burned-out penitentiary.
More Deaths Rumored
After all the inmates have surrendered, the FBI will search the penitentiary for holdouts and to investigate claims by some inmates that one or more Cubans died in one of the fires that ravaged the 85-year-old stone prison, Korten said.
The former hostages generally were in good shape and all declined medical treatment at a hospital, said Justice Department spokesman Tom Stewart.
The inmates' surrender marked the conclusion of an uprising that left one inmate dead, several guards and detainees wounded and much of the prison in charred ruins.