Hugo Pinell, of “San Quentin 6” fame, was stabbed to death at age 71 on August 12.
Hugo Pinell was in the middle of serving two life sentences when he died. He had a long list of convictions, including a rape in 1964. He also killed a prison officer and stabbed his own lawyer in the throat with a pen.
In 1971, Hugh and five other prisoners attempted to break out of San Quentin Prison. The attempted breakout took place in August of 1971. It resulted in the death of George Jackson. Jackson was a member of the Black Panthers. He was also the founder of a gang called the Black Guerrilla Family.
The attempt also killed three guards and two other inmates. The group of men leading the escape would become known as the “San Quentin 6.”
Pinell was the victim of a stabbing in the prison yard. The stabbing was public and incited chaos among the inmates. The riot grew as large as 70 prisoners.
A spokeswoman for the prison suggested that Hugh was targeted by an inmate whose name has been kept quiet to prevent further chaos. However, the details of the event remain unknown.
Conflicting information has emerged in the aftermath of the riot. Some reports that the killing was the catalyst for a riot, while others suggest that the murder took place during a riot.
The riot saw the use of homemade weapons. Eleven prisoners were removed from the facility and treated at outside hospitals for the wounds they received during the riot.
Almost 100 inmates became involved in the incident. There have been no reports of injuries to prison staff during the conflict.
The scene on August 12 is reminiscent of the 1971 attempted escape from Folsom State Prison. Folsom is also the subject of the famous Johnny Cash song.
The ringleader of the 1971 escape attempt was George Jackson, who died during the attempt. The breakout began when Jackson revealed a smuggled pistol from inside his Afro and killed two of the prison’s officers.
As chaos ensued, High Pinell slit the throat of another guard with a homemade weapon. The guard survived the event and provided testimony against Hugh in the court proceedings that followed.
Pinell participated in and was killed by the violence that is so prevalent in America’s prison systems.
[Photo Source: California Department of Corrections]