This week marks 41 years since the nation’s deadliest prison uprising took place at the Attica Correctional Facility, located 35 miles east of Buffalo, in 1971.
Thirty nine men , 10 hostages and 29 inmates, were killed when State Police retook the prison following a riot that broke out on September 9th.
Many people attribute the riot to the racial issues inside of the prison at the time. Of 2,243 inmates, 54% were African American, 9% Puerto Rican and 37% white; however, all of the 383 correctional officers were white. From reports on the prison conditions, some corrections officers were openly racist and assaulted the prisoners with their batons, which they dubbed “n***** sticks”. During this time period in the country, black militancy was at its peak and several prisons had their black militants transferred to Attica. Additionally, George Jackson, a member of the Black Panther Party, died at the hands of white prison officers only a few days before the riot in the San Quentin State Prison in California, adding to the racial tension. The aftermath of the riot called for prison reform, especially in the treatment of minority inmates who were becoming a majority in several state correctional facilities across America