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Prison officials dismissed after inmate escape

Last Modified: Tuesday, February 12, 2013 1:45 PM

BATON ROUGE (AP) — Authorities say one prison official has been fired and another has resigned in lieu of termination in the wake of a convicted killer escaping last month from the Louisiana Correctional Institute for Women in St. Gabriel.

Angela Whittaker, assistant to the secretary of the state Department of Public Safety and Corrections, told The Advocate officials determined that a "supervision issue" contributed to the Jan. 1 escape of Keana Barnes, 33.

Barnes had been serving a 25-year manslaughter sentence for killing two men.

"The policies are good and sound, but what we found was that the officers that we let go were not making appropriate rounds," Whittaker said. Had the policies been followed appropriately, Whittaker added, "they would have prevented this from happening."

Whittaker was not authorized Monday to release the names of the officers held responsible, but said one was a sergeant and the other a cadet.

New details also have emerged about how Barnes escaped.

Barnes, who shaved her head in the days before her escape, broke a window in her dorm room, climbed out and scaled a perimeter gate, Whittaker said. Corrections officials have said Barnes sustained a "fairly deep" cut to one of her fingers during her escape.

"We suspect that she used a combination lock to break the window," Whittaker said. "Offenders have access to two combination locks that they keep on their lockers. We suspect that she put those two locks in some kind of sock and slung it at the window."

Federal and state authorities say they are still working various leads trying to locate Barnes, including some that have placed her in the New Orleans area. Barnes has family there, authorities have said, and she apparently has been getting assistance to evade arrest.

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