Two prisoners wielding homemade knives took two female counselors hostage Friday at the Wyoming State Penitentiary, state officials said.

"Any time you have a hostage situation you're always at risk, and at least one of the inmates has had a violent history so we're very concerned," said Gary Sherman, the executive secretary of the state Board of Charities and Reform.The women, who were seized about 7 a.m. during sick call, were being held in a counseling room within the prison's maximum security unit, according to Gov. Mike Sullivan, who was briefed on the incident in Cheyenne. The rest of the penitentiary was placed in a lock-down.

"There are discussions taking place between the inmates and the warden as well as the hostages and the warden," said Sullivan.

"Their demands are simply a press conference or simply to discuss what their grievances are with the members of the press," Sherman said. "Certainly we want to insure the safety of these two employees."

Sullivan said he did not know if the inmates would be granted a press conference, however.

"The warden will determine what direction is taken," he said.

Sherman said the state director of corrections, Don Boyer, was en route to the prison by airplane and was expected to arrive by midday.