New Mexico: Independence Day Breakout

Independence Day Breakout

Chastened by a 1980 prison riot that left 33 convicts dead, New Mexico built a new maximum-security facility near Santa Fe with a surveillance system that was supposedly state of the art. But a snafu in the electric eyes plus a tight budget that cut out the nighttime roof guard allowed the Independence Day escape of two killers and five other felons.

The breakout was led by Convicted Murderer William Wayne Gilbert, 38, who pulled a .22-cal. gun, shot a guard and released six other inmates from their cells. The seven fled to the roof, thence over an 18-ft.-high chain link...