Cost of Atlanta, Oakdale Riots Put at Tens of Millions : Hostages to Get Bonuses and Extra Pay

United Press International

Hostages in the 12-day takeover at the Atlanta Federal Penitentiary will get $1,000 bonuses, extra pay and vacations, officials said, while the total cost of two Cuban uprisings was put at tens of millions of dollars.

Abdul-Saboor Rushdan, a guard who was one of four hostages released Dec. 1, said Sunday that the men got their $1,000 bonus checks Saturday and were told that they would get eight hours of straight time for each day held hostage, plus 16 hours of overtime at time and a half and double time for each day they would have been off.

Bureau of Prisons officials said Saturday that the hostages will also get a week of paid vacation and the bonus for a total outlay of about $500,000.


Louisiana Hostages Included

Rushdan said Bureau of Prisons officials told them the policy also would cover hostages held at the Oakdale, La., federal detention center, where the first of two Cuban uprisings began Nov. 21 and ended Nov. 29. The Atlanta siege lasted 12 days, ending Dec. 4.

Cuban detainees in Atlanta, fearing deportation to their homeland, seized 94 hostages and set fire to three prison buildings. They released their hostages unharmed after officials agreed to a moratorium on deportation to Cuba and to not hold them responsible for damage to the penitentiary.

Preliminary estimates of damage to a dozen buildings at Atlanta and Oakdale range between $20 million and $30 million, Bureau of Prisons spokesman John Vanyur said Saturday. He called the estimates conservative.

Left With Hefty Tab

The uprising also left local governments with a hefty tab, officials said.

In man-hours and overtime, it cost the Atlanta Police Bureau $66,000 to keep 25 Atlanta police officers on the scene full time, police officials said.

Officials said it might be next week before they determine the cost of shipping military troops and FBI agents to the facility in southeast Atlanta. FBI SWAT teams were flown to Atlanta from Philadelphia and Chicago.

Costs for use of National Guardsmen and their helicopters, 1,500 soldiers from Ft. Bragg, N.C., and the Atlanta Fire Bureau also have yet to be tabulated.

The Fire Bureau stationed a 44-person contingent at the penitentiary in three shifts around the clock. The fire crews logged an estimated 12,672 man-hours on the scene. At an average pay of $15 an hour, the tally for the fire personnel services nears $195,000.

Food Costs Part of Tab

Costs also include food for the authorities during the siege, hospital and ambulance expenses and other incidentals likely to be charged to the federal government.

Authorities said 936 Cubans were removed from the fire-ravaged Atlanta prison Friday and Saturday and transferred to other detention facilities. The remaining 186 were locked in an undamaged cellblock because of a bed shortage in other prisons.

A force of 360 FBI SWAT team members conducted a three-hour search of the prison, finding “thousands” of homemade machetes and confiscating 13 Molotov cocktails.

The insurrection left one inmate dead, several guards and detainees wounded and much of the prison in ruins.