Inmates in Ala. prison permit medics to enter


TALLADEGA, Ala. -- For the second time since 121 Cuban prisoners took over a cellblock and seized 10 hostages on Wednesday, negotiators came face to face with some of the inmates and some of the hostages yesterday when medical workers were allowed to provide routine medications.

Roger Scott, warden of the 909-inmate Talladega Federal Correctional Institution, said that medical workers saw six of the hostages and "several of the Cuban detainees." He added, "There are no signs that any of the hostages seen by the medical staff have been harmed."

The first face-to-face contact came Thursday night when negotiators provided medical assistance and medication to three the hostages and two of the prisoners.

Throughout the standoff, officials of the Bureau of Prisons have refused to provide any details about what was happening inside. Following that policy, they would not disclose what sort of medical problem was being addressed or what medication was involved. They would say only that it did not involve anything life-threatening.

Asked about any demands from the prisoners, Mr. Scott suggested that the medical treatment had been among the items under discussion.

"The medical treatment is the only thing that we have managed to agree on at this point," he said, adding that the cellblock where the uprising took place was calm and that negotiations were continuing.

Food for the inmates and the hostages appeared to be a subject of negotiation early in the takeover, but since Thursday night, food had not been an issue, officials said.

Daniel R. Dunne, deputy public affairs officer for the Bureau of Prisons, said that negotiators were now speculating that the prisoners had obtained food from the prison commissary in the days before the takeover and "may have stored it in anticipation of this action."

He said negotiators believed that it was "being rationed out" and shared with the hostages.

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