Alleged hauntings and ghost sightings of places where accidents and tragedies occurred is not uncommon. In fact, there are many places throughout the state that are said to be haunted, so it should come as no surprise that the New Mexico State Penitentiary’s Old Main facility is on that list — especially since it was the site of a vicious riot in 1980.
Inmates at the Penitentiary of New Mexico, overtook prison guards in the early morning hours of Feb. 2, 1980. Fed up with airing grievances about overcrowding, substandard food and the treatment of some prisoners — that seemed to fall on deaf ears — they decided to take action.
During a routine inspection in one of the dormitories, the inmates overtook four prison guards and took them hostage. They then went to another dormitory, where another four guards were taken hostage. They continued to take hostages until they had acquired a total of 12.
During their initial assault, they were able to gain access of the control center, where they were able to get keys for the five grill gates in the prison. What happened after that will forever be etched in New Mexico history. For 36 hours, prisoners and guards alike, were tortured, beat, stabbed and raped. There were also several overdoses after the rioters gained access to the prison pharmacy.