This is the kind of stuff you see in movies. Over a 36 hour period, inmates took control of a New Mexico prison, holding guards hostage and killing ... each other.

During an early morning inmate count February 2, 1980, inmates took advantage of unlocked doors to jump several guards and take them hostage. This started a 36 hour siege that would see 33 inmates killed, (by each other), and 200 seriously injured.

Old Main Prison, near Santa Fe, New Mexico, had a few prison riots to its credit but nothing like this had ever happened before. Or since.

A number of factors led to the riot which started with a simple, unlocked door and, according to an eyewitness, a single drunk inmate.

What Sparked The Old Main Prison Riot?

Overcrowding, unsanitary conditions, improperly housing violent and non-violent offenders, the cancellation of prison programs, a shortage of trained staff, and guards bolstering a snitching system all culminated in the riot. - onlyinyourstate

You would expect that the inmates would beat and kill the guards in acts of revenge but, no. They roughed them up some but most of the inmates killed, died at the hands of other inmates.

Snitches got the worst of it and some died horrifically. Pictures show marks in the concrete floor an axe made as one inmate was hacked to death. Another is of burn marks left as an inmate was burned alive with a blowtorch.  You can see some other pics at cd.nm.gov and some of the riot here. (Some are graphic.)

Inmate/eyewitness Gary Nelson described the scene, saying: "You have people running around out here, stabbing people just to see what it's like to stab people. We've got people stabbing dead bodies. It's nuts here - KOAT

Videos of inmates who witnessed the carnage telling their stories are shown to visitors at Old Main Prison which has long since been closed. To book a tour, click here.

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