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Author and University of New Mexico Professor Shares Historical Look at the 1980 Riot at the Penitentiary of New Mexico in New Title

Book offers comprehensive look at the riot; underscores the importance of prison reform

Featuring sweeping research, first-hand accounts and interviews with family members, author and University of New Mexico professor Dirk Cameron Gibson provides a multifaceted historical account of one of the most violent prison riots in American history.

In “The Incredible Ordeal of Michael Schmidt: The 1980 Riot at the Penitentiary of New Mexico,” Gibson provides readers an extensive and exceptionally researched report of the 1980 riot that took place at the Penitentiary of New Mexico. The book also serves to highlight the critical importance of addressing prison reform to avoid future riots across the country.

“I want to remind people that prisons are underfunded and prison reform is necessary to avoid potential violence,” Gibson said.

Gibson was introduced to Michael Schmidt and his story of being violently attacked during the riot while serving as a correctional officer at the prison. Gibson took two-and-a-half years to research and write the book, painstakingly gathering details and allowing the research to guide the direction of the text. Through sharing the discoveries of his investigation, Gibson aims to shine a light on the riot, the circumstances that brought it about and ways to avoid uprisings in the future.

“I would like to be an instrument for social change in making prisons more human,” said Gibson. “Prisons have no constituencies. I’d like to be a voice for prison reform and use the opportunity to draw attention to the plight of the prisoners.”

“The Incredible Ordeal of Michael Schmidt: The 1980 Riot at the Penitentiary of New Mexico”
By Dirk Cameron Gibson
ISBN: 9781665533508 (softcover); 9781665533492 (hardcover); 9781665533485 (electronic)
Available at AuthorHouseAmazon and Barnes & Noble

About the author
Dirk Cameron Gibson is a prolific author. He has published research books on a variety of subjects, including serial murder, outer space studies, consumer product recalls, communication in legal practice, a rhetorical biography of J. Edgar Hoover. Gibson’s Ph D. coursework included two Ph. D-level courses on the study of history, providing him the background to analyze and interpret historic events. In addition, his BS, MA and Ph. D in communication facilitated his understanding of the 1980 riot at the Penitentiary of New Mexico as a media event, desperate attempts by inmates to cry for help by communicating their plight at the hands of correctional officers and the prison administration. To learn more, please visit

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