Oakdale federal prison riot 32 years ago Thursday

Oakdale federal prison riot 32 years ago Thursday

LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) -Thirty-two years ago, November 21, a riot, and hostage situation broke out at the Federal Prison in Oakdale--

It started after inmates from Cuba took over the prison. Illegal immigrants are again being housed in Allen Parish, but officials say such a scenario would likely never be repeated.

It was a siege that started after more than 1000 Cuban inmates took over the Federal Prison in Oakdale, taking 28 hostages and setting 14 buildings on fire.

Former Assistant U.S.. Attorney Larry Regan remembers the late Fidel Castro had opened his prisons sent them to America in the Mariel boat lift.

"They were hardened criminals. They were the worst of the worst in Cuba and that's why Castro had them in prisons. You also had those individuals that were mentally ill or criminally insane from Cuba, Marielitos also that were there,” said Regan.

The volatile situation lasted about a week because the inmates did not want to be returned to Cuba.

"They of course did not want to go back and that was why they rioted to try to get an assurance or to try to stop from being deported," said Regan.

It finally came to a peaceful ending after a Cuban archbishop assisted with negotiations.

Illegal immigrants are now being housed at a parish detention facility behind the jail in Oberlin .and two escaped earlier this year. Neither Regan or Sheriff Doug Hebert believe the situation from 32 years ago will likely ever be repeated, for one thing because procedures have changed.

"Now people, Bureau of Prisons are looking for those potential flashpoints," said Regan.

Sheriff Doug Hebert says the system is a lot different now.

"Quite frankly a lot of them aren't here as long as they used to be because of the courts. They move them through faster. We've had some for three or four months. We've had some for a week," said Hebert.

The two who escaped in August were arrested without incident.

For more on the riot in the prison in Oakdale click here.

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