Female inmate escapes from prison Tuesday morning

Keana Barnes
Keana Barnes

Authorities are looking for an inmate who escaped the Louisiana Correctional Institute for Women early Tuesday, a Department of Public Safety and Corrections official said.

Keana Barnes, 33, escaped around 1 a.m. Tuesday, Department of Public Safety and Corrections spokeswoman Pam Laborde said.

The escape is the first at the Louisiana Correctional Institute for Women since 1985, Laborde said.

Authorities are not sure how Barnes escaped, Laborde said.

K-9 search teams from the nearby Elayn Hunt Correctional Center are helping officials from the Department of Public Safety and Corrections and the Louisiana Correctional Institute for Women search for Barnes, Laborde said.

Authorities will search across the state for Barnes but will focus on the New Orleans area because Barnes is from there, Laborde said.

Barnes was serving a 25-year sentence for manslaughter after being taken into the state’s custody in 2004, Laborde said. Barnes is considered armed and dangerous.

Barnes is 5 feet 4 inches tall, weighs 140 pounds, has dark brown eyes and brown hair, Laborde said.

The Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections is offering a $1,000 reward for information leading to Barnes’ arrest, Laborde said.

Anyone with information about Barnes’ whereabouts is asked to call the Louisiana Correctional Institute for Women’s Control Center at (225) 319-2300.

Laborde said Tuesday that the Department of Public Safety and Corrections, as it does with every inmate escape, will review the incidents to determine how it happened and prevent future escapes.

“Our priority right now is to find this offender and bring her back into custody as quickly as possible,” Laborde said in an email.

Barnes is the second inmate at a St. Gabriel prison to escape in five days.

On Dec. 28, Joshua Kelly escaped from Elayn Hunt Correctional Center around midnight while he was working with a group of other inmates on a night cleaning crew, the Department of Public Safety and Corrections has said.

Kelly, 38, is serving a 65-year prison term for several Orleans Parish armed robbery convictions.

Louisiana State Penitentiary Warden Burl Cain has said Kelly spent six years at Angola before being transferred to Hunt Correctional Center about six months ago to serve out the remainder of his term.

Cain has said Kelly escaped because he wanted a transfer to the Angola facility because he feared for his life at Hunt Correctional Center.

Authorities arrested Kelly without incident more than two hours after his escape at the intersection La. 73 and La. 75 in Ascension Parish, Laborde has said.

Kelly was returned to Hunt Correctional Center, Laborde has said.