Staff at Other Ariz. Prisons Rally Around Hostage

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Workers from other prisons around Arizona are donning yellow ribbons and volunteering to fill in at a prison that has been under lockdown for more than a week while a guard is being held hostage, a spokeswoman said Tuesday.

Two inmates have been holed up since Jan. 18 in a guard tower, believed to be stocked with weapons, at the Arizona State Prison Complex-Lewis (search) just west of Phoenix.

One of the two guards in the tower was released Saturday. The other, a woman, was still being held hostage Tuesday but had been allowed to speak to prison officials.

The prison remains in lockdown, meaning the other 4,400 inmates of the medium- to high-security facility are being allowed little movement outside their cells.

That has shifted much of the workload normally carried by inmates to staff members, said Department of Corrections spokeswoman Cam Hunter. Inmates' work duties range from laundry to cleaning to kitchen work.

"There is a huge work force that hasn't been working," Hunter said.

To help alleviate the strain on the staff, officers from other prisons have volunteered to take over shifts and to make meals for the families of Lewis employees, Hunter said.

Staff members elsewhere in the state also started wearing yellow ribbons Monday in a sign of solidarity with the remaining hostage.

Negotiators last talked to the guard in the tower on Monday, but prison officials gave no details on their conversation with her.

A male correctional officer, who had been on duty with the woman, was released Saturday afternoon. He did not suffer any life-threatening injuries and was able to climb a ladder down from the three-story tower.

The Department of Corrections has not identified the guards or the inmates, or said what the inmates are demanding.