St. Gabriel residents live in fear after two inmates escape only days apart

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POSTED: Wednesday, January 2, 2013 - 10:45pm

UPDATED: Thursday, January 3, 2013 - 11:38am

People living in St. Gabriel say they're living in fear. Tuesday a woman escaped from a prison near their homes, but neighbors say it's not the first time something like this has happened.

Keana Barnes, 33, escaped from the Louisiana correctional institute for women in St. Gabriel yesterday, this is the second prison escape this week and it's something that isn’t sitting well with residents in that area.

Scared, concerned and worried; that's the overall feeling in St. Gabriel right now.

”Anyone could escape and hurt someone else,” Megan Louque, resident, said.

But even though Keana Barnes is still on the loose, correctional officers say there's no need to worry.

"I don't think the residents in the area should really be alarmed," stated Pam Laborde, the Communications Director for the Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections. "Hunt and lCIW are doing the best they can do we don't have no problem with them and they got the best security that I know of even the police force around here even the Mayor they are all working hand in hand around here."

Some residents like Matthew Saia say they have faith in the system. "They are doing a hard job I applaud them for what they are doing they are doing the best what they can with what they got."

But even Saia sees room for improvement.

"If there is 2 prison breaks within a week there has got to be a flaw in the facility or security in some kind of way they could beef up security beef up guards something like that maybe post a watch. The biggest thing is they can inform the citizens and the community," he said.

Officials and investigators are now piecing together how this escape happened and more importantly how they can prevent this in the future.

"What were concentration mostly right now is finding here and that's what's our priority is right now," says Laborde.

St Gabriel residents will just have to keep their eyes and ears open until Barnes is back behind bars.

The Department of Corrections have something called a First Call System, where they notify those signed up if something like this were to happen. In this case they called all the people on the list, but that list was very short. They encourage all residents to sign up and register for first call as soon as possible.

Now as for Barnes, the Department of Corrections is offering a $1,000 reward for information leading to her capture. If you have any information, call (225) 319-2300.

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