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Descent Into Madness A Case Study of the 1980 New Mexico Penitentiary Riots.

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Presentation on theme: "Descent Into Madness A Case Study of the 1980 New Mexico Penitentiary Riots."— Presentation transcript:

1 Descent Into Madness A Case Study of the 1980 New Mexico Penitentiary Riots

2 A Tribute by a Thrash Metal Group  Exodus: The Last Act of Defiance Exodus: The Last Act of Defiance Exodus: The Last Act of Defiance

3 A Brief Summary  Prior to the riot, frequent changes and inconsistency in the management of the prison led to misbehavior of the inmates.  A “well-organized, peaceful protest of prison conditions” was staged on July 14, The sit-down strike was broken by guards through violence.  A new form of coercion called the “snitch game” played upon the fears of inmates to be labeled a “snitch”, to gain information.

4 A Brief Summary  Shortly after midnight on February 2, 1980, inmates jumped four guards during a routine check on a dormitory, one of which had a set of keys.  They smashed through an “unbreakable” window of the control centre, opening other rooms from there.  The first killed was an informer, who was beaten, tortured and mutilated.  A mentally ill patient whose screams kept other inmates awake at night was shot by a teargas launcher in the head at close range.

5 A Brief Summary  Inmates found keys to the pharmacy, where they stole narcotics, barbiturates and sedatives.  Blowtorches were found and used to open new wings.  Chaos, violence, and a lack of leadership prevailed, although some discussed turning the riot into a protest. Inmates both fought amongst themselves and hid in fear.  Some guards were treated kindly, others were beaten, stabbed, and sodomized.

6 A Brief Summary  A sympathetic inmate tossed a wrench into a dormitory under siege; he was beaten and killed, but saved eighty inmates who used the wrench to break out and surrender to authorities for safety.  Some Protective Custody inmates blended in with rioters; others were tortured, bludgeoned, burned, hanged, or thrown off catwalks.  An African American was decapitated, his head placed on a pole, and paraded about.  One “snitch” had a steel rod hammered through his head.

7 A Brief Summary  Many victims were targeted because of their weakness; killers competed for “quantity and quality” of killings to prove moral superiority.  Therefore, negotiations by state authorities were unsuccessful.  Three Hispanic inmates drafted an agreement that called for:  No retaliation against rioting inmates  A review of segregation policies  Allowing inmates to meet with the press  No double-bunking of inmates  Water hoses to inmates to douse fires  Police, National guardsmen, and prison employees retook the prison when the last few hostages were finally returned.

8 Hmmmm… 1. How did the “snitches” create divisions within the social structure of the prison? 2. Why would some inmates trust and work with the guards instead of against them? 3. Should the inmates who protected guards be awarded for their actions? If so, how? 4. Should those who tried to organize the riot into a protest to control the violence be rewarded or punished? 5. Is the agreement that guards will not retaliate against rioting inmates beneficial?


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