LOS LUNAS, N.M. (KRQE) – The ACLU has released a surveillance video from a state prison showing guards standing around as an inmate is attacked by four other inmates. The civil rights group says this video is the latest example of rampant problems in New Mexico’s prison system.
The ACLU says the video speaks volumes about the issues in the State Corrections Department and the need for more oversight. “I find it very troubling that employees of the Corrections Department would stand by and watch an individual get attacked by several individuals for a significant amount of time,” says ACLU Senior Policy Strategist, Barron Jones.
A guard and an inmate can be seen talking in an empty housing wing at the Central New Mexico prison in Los Lunas last month. The ACLU says sources told them the two were arguing over work duty.
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Moments later, a second guard and four other inmates enter the room. They tell the other inmates to leave and they do. But, they come back as the inmate follows the guard downstairs and then go in for the attack, which goes on for about thirty seconds. Meanwhile, the officers stay back and watch.
The ACLU says the guards wrote in their report that the inmates were just protecting them. But the ACLU wants to know how this video shows the inmate was a threat to the guard and why the guards left one of the attackers out of the report. The ACLU says there’s no place for street justice in prison.
“When folks are sent to prison, you know, that is that is their, that is their punishment, right, being removed from society, taken away from their family and friends. And that’s where it should end, they should be treated like human beings throughout the process,” says Jones.
The ACLU blurred the inmate’s faces to protect their identities. KRQE News 13 asked the ACLU what happened to the two guards, but they didn’t know. We spoke with the New Mexico Corrections Department who said an investigation has been initiated and that the two staff members have been placed on administrative leave.
The ACLU also pointed out the Corrections Department’s policy dictates that officers are responsible for safeguarding the well-being of people in their custody and allows them to use or show force to stop an attack.