OAKDALE, LA., NOV. 29 -- At the behest of a Cuban-born bishop, inmates at the Federal Detention Center here laid down their weapons and released 26 hostages today, ending a nine-day siege that began when rioting prisoners burned the facility and took 28 captives.

J.D. Williams, regional director of the U.S. Bureau of Prisons, said the hostages, who were taken to a hospital, "appeared to be in excellent shape. None of them appeared to be injured."

Federal officials took over the prison, which they said would be rebuilt, and said they would work through the night to dispatch the Cubans to other federal prisons. By late tonight more than 100 were out of the facility.

Roman Catholic Auxiliary Bishop Agustin A. Roman of Miami, whose personal appearance persuaded the Cuban detainees to sign a seven-point agreement and end the siege, said at a news conference here that he is willing to help inmates in the federal penitentiary in Atlanta end their uprising if they ask for him.

The hostages here were released in four groups beginning at 2:15 p.m. while inmates in the yard paraded with an American flag and a banner with the word "peace."

As tearful federal officials cheered, the freed hostages boarded a bus outside the center and were taken to Humana Hospital, where hundreds of jubilant relatives of the hostages yelled for joy and pounded on the windows of the bus.

A woman carrying a child on her back exclaimed, "They're free! Daddy's coming home."

Hospital officials said the hostages would be kept overnight for observation, but one hostage, Webster Chamberlain, was released from the hospital tonight so that he could visit his 17-month-old daughter, who is a patient in another hospital.

Almira Carvajal, whose boyfriend, Angel Cespedes Campos, is one of the inmates, was too elated to care where he would be transferred when the facility is emptied. "Wherever they go, I'll grab my clothes and rags and go," she said. "By foot, I'll go."

Williams would not discuss the terms of the agreement that won freedom for the hostages, but Rafael A. Penalver, a lawyer with Roman, displayed it for a video camera and reporters transcribed it from the tape.

The government did not back down on its plan to send Cubans back to Cuba, but it agreed that none of the detainees will be held liable for damage at Oakdale. The agreement provides for speedy hearings of parole cases, medical treatment for detainees who need it and assurance that those already granted parole will not be subject to arbitrary changes in their immigration status.

A lawyer close to the Cuban inmate uprising in Atlanta said the Oakdale agreement is a good one for the inmates "if the government is operating in good faith. If the government is not, it is not a good agreement."

Roman "was able to convince them {the inmates} that it was a good settlement," Williams said, but his role was restricted to that of a witness. "Bishop Roman did not -- I repeat, did not -- negotiate," Williams said.

Accompanied by Penalver, Miami banker Carlos Arboleya and radio personality Tomas Garcia-Fuste, who was acting as a cultural adviser to the government negotiating team, Roman signed the agreement, which was then passed across a negotiating table to four inmate leaders.

At a news conference following the hostages' release, Roman and Penalver said the agreement achieved significant gains for the inmates.

"The review process I think will be a much more fair process than it has been up to now," Penalver said.

A Justice Department official said that the agreement involves only an administrative review and will not involve the court system. "The country is not going to agree that nobody goes back to Cuba. The question is who is it going to be."

Under the terms of the pact, Roman said that each inmate's case would be reviewed quickly and individually, and that priority would be given to uniting inmates with their families.

Furthermore, Penalver said that Roman would be involved in assuring that the review process "is an equitable one."

"I am very pleased that the situation in Oakdale has been peacefully resolved and that all 28 of those who were held hostage are safe and are reported in good condition," Attorney General Edwin Meese III said in a statement issued by the Justice Department in Washington.

"While this is understandably a time of rejoicing and thanksgiving, the Department of Justice will not rest until the situation in Atlanta is also peacefully concluded and all hostages there are released," Meese said.

Earlier in the day, federal officials had broadcast a videotaped message from Roman urging prisoners to release the hostages and to comply with the terms of an agreement drawn up by inmate negotiators and federal authorities Thursday.

According to a written translation of the address provided by federal officials, Roman said, "I want you to release the prisoners who are in your custody and I want you to demonstrate to the world the good will that every Christian should have in his heart." Later in the five-minute message, Roman said, "Sign the document. You can be sure that what you will have done is good."

By late morning, however, inmates had not answered, and their relatives said they believed no hostages would be released unless federal authorities allowed Roman to personally witness the signing of the agreement.

"He {Roman} may be talking about one thing and they {the inmates} may be signing another," said Mireya Almaguer, whose brother, Diego Lorenzo, is believed to be one of the inmates.

At 8:20 a.m., about 20 minutes after the message was first broadcast, inmates moved a previously used banner demanding that Roman appear at the center to a section of the prison yard where reporters could read it again.

Justice Department spokesman Mark Sheehan said federal officials set up several large television screens at the perimeter of the center early this morning to broadcast Roman's message to inmates several times.

Tommy C. Martin, warden at the federal correctional institution at El Reno, Okla., and a ranking federal Bureau of Prisons official here, said Roman told inmates that he talked with his attorney and with Meese after reviewing the agreement.

Rioting inmates took over the detention center here Nov. 21 after prisoners learned of a renewed agreement between Cuba and the United States that could force 2,500 Cubans who came here in the 1980 boatlift from Mariel, Cuba, to go back to their homeland.

Hopes for the release of the hostages here were raised dramatically on Thursday when a camera crew filmed a Cuban inmate negotiator and a federal official discussing a "typed agreement" and shaking hands.

In what appeared to be an act of good faith, the inmates then released a hostage, William Hoffpauir Jr., a detention center guard. On Friday, the inmates released Manuel Cedillos, a detention center counselor, after he was stabbed in the back of the neck by an inmate from the center's mental health unit.

Roman, who has worked with Cuban refugees in Miami since 1966, publicly criticized the new diplomatic agreement between Cuba and the United States when it was announced on Nov. 20.

As founder of the Shrine of Our Lady of Charity, which has been described as "the heartbeat of the Cuban community" in Miami, Roman had been mentioned as someone who could play a crucial role in negotiations for the hostages' release.

In Washington, Justice Department spokesman Terry Eastland said the Immigration and Naturalization Service was continuing its program to release certain Cubans on parole and anticipated releasing as many as two dozen during the next few weeks. He said those released would be Cubans held at facilities other than Oakdale and Atlanta.

"It will demonstrate to the detainees and negotiators in the current situations that the government does indeed have an intent to treat each individual in a fair and indeed an equitable manner," Eastland said.

Staff writers Ruth Marcus in Washington and Don Phillips in Atlanta contributed to this report.