Oakdale is the largest of eight towns in Allen Parish, in the moss-covered pine forest on the edge of Cajun country in southwest Louisiana. Oakdale prison had three two-story dormitories: two dorms for men and one for women. Oakdale's mayor, George Mowad, was an enthusiastic backer of the prison and had traveled to Washington several times to lobby for it. The Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) was transferring Central Americans to Oakdale from all over the country, removing them from their attorneys. The Bureau of Prisons had offered its employees raises and promotions to leave the prisons where they worked and put in a tour of duty in Oakdale. As a modern air-conditioned prison, Oakdale was physically more comfortable for detainees than the corralon and luxurious compared to Florence, but the prisoners were tougher, with a higher percentage of felons.