What happened at Attica

This post on documentaries about prisons and the carceral state highlights perhaps the most well-known prison rebellion in the history of the United States at Attica State Prison in upstate New York.

The Attica Prison Rebellion lasted for four days, from September 9 to 13, 1971, when Black, Puerto Rican, and poor Whites organized a prison-wide rebellion, demanding fair and humane treatment, education program, access to decent medical care, protection from sadist guards, and several other reasonable demands.

As Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Heather Ann Thompson writes in Blood in the Water,

"On September 13, the state abruptly sent hundreds of heavily armed troopers and correction officers to retake the prison by force. Their gunfire killed thirty-nine men—hostages as well as prisoners—and severely wounded more than one hundred others. In the ensuing hours, weeks, and months, troopers and officers brutally retaliated against the prisoners. And, ultimately, New York State authorities prosecuted only the prisoners, never once bringing charges against the officials involved in the retaking and its aftermath and neglecting to provide support to the survivors and the families of the men who had been killed. Blood in the Water is the searing and indelible account of one of the most important civil rights stories of the last century."

Attica (116 min.) by Stanley Nelson & Traci A. Curry 

"Survivors, observers, and expert government officials recount the 1971 uprising at the Attica Correctional Facility. The violent five-day standoff between mostly Black and Latino inmates and law enforcement gripped America then, and highlights the urgent, ongoing need for reform 50 years later."

The trailer is available here, and you can stream the documentary on Showtime.

This New York Times article discusses how New York State prison authorities first banned Thompson's book, then reversed the ban except for two pages.