beheading

Royalty was like dandelions. No matter how many heads you chopped off, the roots were still there underground, waiting to spring up again.

It seemed to be a chronic disease. It was as if even the most intelligent person had this little blank spot in their heads where someone had written: “Kings. What a good idea.” Whoever had created humanity had left in a major design flaw. It was its tendency to bend at the knees.

—  Terry Pratchett - Feet Of Clay
2

Above are images of the marks left on the building of the New Mexico State Penitentiary after a brutal 2 day riot that gutted the prison in 1980. The first image shows marks left by an axe after an inmate was decapitated, and the second image shows burns left on the floor where an inmate was allegedly burnt alive.

The riot was a result of the conditions the prisoners were living in at the time and would have easily been predicted, the tension building over time. The prison was designed to house 900 prisoners but there were 1,136 inmates. Many inmates were living in communal dormitories with unsanitary conditions. There were significant issues with staff as well, with policies being implemented inconsistently, poor communication and chronic staffing shortages. The riot was sparked when two prisoners took an officer hostage and used the officer’s keys to release the prisoners in the adjacent dormitory. Eventually, they broke into the central controls and opened the majority of the prison - with some cells in the northern block remaining locked due to an error in the central controls.

Violence erupted almost immediately within the cell blocks as inmates attacked each other, rival gangs targeting each other. The prisoners who had been housed in solitary confinement decided to break into the protective custody block. Here people branded as ‘snitches’ or people with sexual offences against children were being housed for their own safety. A self appointed ‘execution squad’ managed to break in, they hauled the prisoners from the cells and murdered them - dismembering, decapitating and burning some prisoners alive. One prisoner was held up to the window, in full view of police, and was tortured by another prisoner who was applying a blow torch to their face. After the police gained access to the prison after the riot they discovered one inmate - who was a shop lifter who had been placed in protective custody after being gang raped - had been hanged from the ceiling, his throat cut, castrated and his genitals inserted into his mouth.

Several officers were taken hostage throughout, and while some were released unharmed others had been brutally beaten and raped. 33 inmates were killed during the riot, the majority of them having been brutally murdered, and 23 of them had been housed in the protective custody unit.