BUCKEYE, Ariz. – As a prison standoff began its second week Sunday, negotiators were getting "increasingly more compliant responses" from two inmates holding a correctional officer hostage in a prison watch tower, a prison official said.
The change in the inmates is "a sign that negotiations have been effective," said the Arizona Department of Corrections (search) official, Ivan Bartos. He did not elaborate about the change.
Officials have provided little information about the standoff since it began, refusing to discuss how the inmates got into the tower, their possible motive, their previous crimes, their names or the names of the two guards they took hostage.
One guard, a man, was released Saturday.
Negotiators spoke by phone with the other guard, a woman, around midday Sunday, and she told them she was all right, said Department of Corrections spokesman James Ahlers. It was the second time they had heard from her since the male guard was released.
The pair were taken hostage Jan. 18 at the Arizona State Prison Complex-Lewis (search), in Buckeye west of Phoenix (search). They were taken hostage after at least one inmate overcame two guards and a worker in the kitchen during breakfast preparation, then made his way with another inmate to the tower at the edge of a prison yard.
On Saturday, the male guard was allowed to climb down a ladder to freedom after negotiators delivered an item demanded by the inmates. A second item was delivered after the hostage was let go as part of the exchange agreement. Officials did not reveal what the inmates were given.
Ahlers said the freed hostage, who was taken to a Phoenix hospital, was resting and had been reunited with his family. Ahlers did not disclose the nature or extent of the man's injuries, but said they probably will keep him in the hospital for a few days.
Officials have seen one inmate on the tower's observation deck several times since the standoff began, but saw the other inmate step outside for the first time Sunday, Ahlers said. The inmate, who was wearing a guard's uniform jacket, could been seen pacing and smoking on the deck for a few minutes.
Until the crisis is resolved, the 4,400 inmates at the medium- to high-security facility are in lockdown.