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Louisiana Inmates Blame Unrest on Governor : Roemer's Stinginess With Clemency Has Created 'Time Bomb,' Lifers Claim

July 23, 1989|LINDA ASHTON | Associated Press

The prison seemed dormant for almost a decade until four murders, four suicides, 64 stabbings and 11 escapes in 14 months forced Polozola to declare a new state of emergency June 21. Another suicide occurred earlier this month.

The fury at Angola is hidden behind the concertina wire. The grounds are trim and neat. Guard towers rise above white fences, rows of corn and herds of cattle. The prison camps look washed and the steel bars are painted.

Maggio, who retired in 1984, is coming back as Polozola's court-appointed prison specialist, but Warden Hilton Butler remains in his job. Polozola will not comment about the case.

Maggio is a nervy man. Kidnapped at knifepoint with his mother by two trusties in 1982, he ran his truck into the main gate, grabbed a pistol from a guard and unloaded it into the cab. One inmate was killed and another wounded. Doris Maggio, then 64, was cut by the windshield's spraying glass.

Butler, chosen warden of the year in 1987 by the North American Assn. of Wardens, said Maggio isn't needed, that there is no state of emergency. What is needed, he said, is more guards and better pay for them.

For two years, Butler has run Angola with a $46-million budget and 1,200 guards. This year, budget cuts deprived guards of the $100-a-month premium for working in a maximum-security prison. It's been years since they had a raise.

That doesn't help inmates either, Wikberg said. "There's a ripple effect here. When employees are happy they treat prisoners a bit better. When they're demoralized, it's hard on inmates."

"It's a situation that's ripe for anything," Webb said.

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