The original state Penitentiary facility was built in 1885. It was replaced by the “Old Main” prison in 1956. In February of 1980, one of the most violent prison riots in correctional history happened at the “Old Main” prison. For 36 hours, approximately 33 inmates were killed, and 12 guards were held hostage and beaten by the prisoners. Inmates gained control of the control center, raided the administrative offices, set documents on fire, and ransacked the prison’s pharmacy. Cell Block 4 was the scene of some of the most violent acts during the riot. Inmates participated in death squads and attacked, burned, and killed other inmates. The “Old Main” closed in 1998 and is now used for tours and film sets.

The New Mexico Corrections Training Academy (NMCTA) opened in 1980, becoming the first correctional training academy in the nation. Today, NMCTA provides specialized training to correctional officers, which was not available prior to its establishment.