9th September 2021 by

50 years on from the Attica Prison riot

The Attica Prison riot occurred at the Attica Correctional Facility in Attica, New York on 9 September 1971. It was the bloodiest encounter between Americans since the US Civil War, leaving 43 people dead – including ten prison officers and civilian employees, and 33 inmates – and 89 seriously injured.

The revolt was based upon prisoners’ demands for better living conditions and political rights. On September 9, 1971, two weeks after the killing of George Jackson at San Quentin State Prison over a thousand of the Attica prison’s approximately 2,200 inmates rioted occupying an exercise field called D Yard, where they held 39 prison guards and employees hostage for four days.

During the following four days of negotiations, authorities agreed to most of the prisoners’ 27 demands but would not agree to demands for complete amnesty from criminal prosecution for the prison takeover or for the removal of Attica’s superintendent. By the order of Governor Nelson Rockefeller, state police and prison officer took back control of the prison. and launched a disastrous raid on September 13, in which 10 hostages and 29 inmates were killed in an indiscriminate hail of gunfire.

As a result of the riot, a number of changes were made in the New York prison system to satisfy some of the prisoners’ demands, reduce tension in the system, and prevent such incidents in the future.

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