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NMSU Criminal Justice professor weighs in on El Paso Jail murder

EL PASO, Texas (KVIA)-- A criminal justice professor at NMSU gave ABC-7 insight about gang culture and safety protocols in jails and prisons after an inmate at the El Paso County Jail Annex was murdered inside his cell Sunday night.

A witness told investigators the motive behind the murder was gang related.

Six fellow inmates are charged in the murder of 57-year-old Jesus Torres.

Court documents state before the attack, a suspect told a witness he was waiting to confirm if the victim was a former member of the Barrio Azteca, a gang.

Documents state video showed the suspects punching and kicking torres. They also used a cane to hit him, the witness told investigators he heard the victim screaming and begging for them to stop.

Court documents state the attack lasted around 45 minutes.

ā€œI would caution everybody to remember that we're still dealing with human beings. And if you only have two or three guards that are watching, you know, even 20 to 30 people at any time, if somebody is having a medical issue, they're going to have to respond to that, or if somebody is having an argument somewhere else. So there could have been other distractions that the guards were already dealing with,ā€ said Mari-Esther Edwards, NMSU Asst. Professor Criminal Justice Dept.

Edwards said once a person enters into a jail or prison they must undergo an intake process to determine where the individual is placed.

"There's a process to see who belongs to what gang and validate them, and once the administration knows of an active gang member, then they will seclude them from the general population to figure out the security threat level,ā€ she said.

Edwards said if administration finds out that somebody is an ex gang member, they are also usually separated out into a protective custody status.

She said they may be considered a rival member of that gang or just a rival of that gang.

Article Topic Follows: New Mexico

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