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Descent into Madness: The New Mexico State Prison Riot Mark Colvin.

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Presentation on theme: "Descent into Madness: The New Mexico State Prison Riot Mark Colvin."— Presentation transcript:

1 Descent into Madness: The New Mexico State Prison Riot Mark Colvin

2 Most horrific prison riot in history 36 hours 33 inmates killed by other inmates 200 inmates severely injured – beating, stabbing, rape OD’s from drugs from the pharmacy

3 12 corrections officers taken hostage None killed Seven beaten, stabbed, sodomized Some guards protected by inmates Some helped to escape riots by inmates

4 Prisoners risked their own lives To keep others from harm

5 20 million dollars damage 200 million in response costs and aftermath

6 Methodology 300 in-depth interviews Prisoners Guards Officials

7 History of the prison is important to understand what happened Not always violent and disorderly Big change in three to four years prior to riot

8 Background

9 At Attica, A few hours of rioting turned into organized protest of prison conditions No more deaths until authorities retook prison

10 At New Mexico riot, Huge disorganization Many inmate on inmate killings Exceptionally brutal

11 1976 Reduction of privileges and programs leads to Peaceful, organized protest Response – new era – more coercion and violence

12 Strike broken with violence Teargas Gauntlet – axe handles Leaders identified, transferred out of state Inmate leadership – provided social cohesion – now gone “Hole” – solitary reopened and used Segregation for discipline more common

13 Lots of turnover in state leadership Similarly, at local level, five wardens in five years Administrative confusion – conflicting policies Clique of administrators running show, virtually unaccountable to anyone

14 Growing inconsistencies in security and discipline In a prison, consistency and routine are hugely important Now, inmates can not calculate punishment for different behaviors Seen by inmates as harassment Prison officers get caught up in “harassment game” – prisoners go to hole

15 The “snitch game” Privileges for telling on others Punishment for not cooperating with guards “hang a snitch jacket” on someone – Guards threaten to tell other inmates that you are a snitch, even if you aren’t Certain cellblock used for “protection”

16 History of little inmate to inmate violence Gives way to murder, and routine fights and sexual assaults

17 Social order had been disturbed Forces that held back disorder dissolved Inmate leadership removed Small, self-protective cliques emerge New inmates arrive into a volatile atmosphere Violence not imported from outside

18 New inmates face tough choices Submit to others Become a snitch Fight other inmates – “don’t mess with them”

19 Submission Labeled “morally weak” Won’t stand up for yourself PC’d up -protective custody- also weak Snitch – weakest of the weak

20 Competition for violent reputations Leads to increased violence – daily occurrences Anglo vs. Chicano fights Anglo cliques emerge

21 All these forces Lead to a fragmented prison society Which finally explodes in 1980

22 Overview of the riot pp

23 Summary Explosive episode had its roots going back much further Lack of organization of the riot and inmate to inmate violence make it notable Violence caused by a few cliques Cliques emerge due to organizational changes and control policy changes


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