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"Behind The Walls And Barbed Wire: The Attica Uprising And Lessons Not Learned" by Benjamin Pomerance

Behind The Walls And Barbed Wire: The Attica Uprising And Lessons Not Learned

by Benjamin Pomerance

"We are MEN! We are not beasts and do not intend to be beaten or driven as such. The entire prison populace has set forth to change forever the ruthless brutalization and disregard for the lives of the prisoners here and throughout the United States. What has happened here is but the sound before the fury of those who are oppressed."
-- From The Demands To The People of America, authored by Attica Correctional Facility Inmates on September 9, 1971

The deadliest prison riot in American history began at breakfast. Inmates of many races and ethnic groups had arrived at the mess hall in Attica Correctional Facility, the largest prison in New York State, out of uniform. Each man wore a forbidden article of black clothing, a show of solidarity for the death of George Jackson, an author and noted Black Panther civil rights activist who had been shot and killed at California's San Quentin Prison the previous month, allegedly for trying to escape from the facility with a gun hidden in his hair. Jackson had received a one-year-to-life sentence for robbing a gas station of $70. During his time in confinement, he had written a series of stinging letters against perceived abuses in American government and society, a collection that was published in a volume titled Soledad Brother that gained widespread national attention -- both positive and negative. Many African-Americans viewed the shooting of Jackson by the guards at San Quentin to be a de facto execution for Jackson's outspoken ways rather than a legitimate attempt to prevent an inmate from escaping. And so on the morning of September 9, 1971, this particular group of men filed into the Attica mess hall in silence, black on their clothing and mouths closed. They sat on the benches in that mess hall, refusing to eat, as the armed officers of the New York State Department of Correctional Services looked on.

It was a seemingly innocuous beginning to a national tragedy. Four days later, 39 men would lie dead in one of the facility's recreation yards, the result of a standoff between prisoners and prison guards that ended in continued brutality, not peaceful resolution. New York State Governor Nelson Rockefeller made the final order to end the rebellion -- in which the inmates had gained nationwide attention by taking over a significant section of the prison and holding several corrections officers hostage -- by sending in New York State Police officers to "secure" the facility. To do so, the police used tear gas and bullets, shooting into the yard in a raid that lasted approximately seven minutes. In the end, 10 guards and 29 inmates died in the attack, a day later described by a commission of experts as one of the bloodiest encounters between Americans since the Civil War. And after rampant speculation that the guards that died that day were killed by the hands of the inmates that had been holding them hostage, autopsies and professional investigations ultimately exposed the astounding truth: that each victim in the yard on that rainy September morning, prisoners and corrections officers alike, were killed by the gunfire ordered by the Governor of New York State. See, e.g., Asha Bandele, After the Attica Uprising, THE NATION, Sept. 9, 2011; Episodes From The Attica Massacre, BLACK SCHOLAR, Vol. 4, 1972, pgs. 35-39; Gerald Benjamin and Stephen P. Rappaport, Attica and Prison Reform, PROCEEDINGS OF THE ACADEMY OF POLITICAL SCIENCE, Vol. 31 (3), 1974, pgs. 200-213; Stewart A. Dippel, The Attica Muse: Lessons From Prison, HISTORY TEACHER, Vol. 26 (1), 1992, pgs. 61-70; Scott McCabe, Crime History -- Attica prison riot begins, ending with 39 killed, THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER, Sept. 9, 2009.

Forty years later, the nation has not seen another prison riot of such catastrophic magnitude. Yet over those four decades, many of the fundamental issues raised by the prisoners who led the uprising at Attica -- and later echoed by authorities across many social science disciplines who studied what happened on that day -- still resonate in a state and a nation where prisons are more crowded than ever with inmates, and where reports of brutal encounters perpetrated by both guards and prisoners are still far too common. It is therefore worth returning to that fateful four-day stretch 40 years ago to remember what happened at Attica Correctional Facility and -- more importantly -- to determine what lessons must be learned so that the tragedy of those days will never be repeated.

A tangible tension had been in the air at Attica well before the group of inmates entered the mess hall in silence on that September morning. A month earlier, a group of prisoners had submitted a petition to the Commissioner of the New York State Department of Correctional Services, Russell Oswald, a list of 27 specific demands meant to end to prison conditions that the inmates called "brutal" and "dehumanized." See Bandele, After the Attica Uprising; Annette T. Rubenstein, Attica Now, MONTHLY REVIEW (1976), Vol. 59 (5), pgs. 12-20. Overcrowded conditions were paramount on their list of demands. Originally designed for 1,600 prisoners, Attica Correctional Facility housed a population of more than 2,200 inmates at the time of the uprising. Id. Conditions were distinctly unhygienic, in part because prisoners received only one roll of toilet paper per month. See John Boston, Four Decades After Attica Uprising, Promise of Prison Reform Unmet, Taped Interview, FSRN RADIO, available at http://fsrn.org/audio/four-decades-after-attica-uprising-promise-of-prison-reform-unmet.html. Beatings and other forms of brutality by corrections officers assigned to Attica were seen as "a matter of course." Bandele, After the Attica Uprising. Frequently, inmates were denied medical care by facility doctors. Boston, Four Decades After Attica Uprising.

Perhaps worst of all, though, was the prison's rampant use of solitary confinement as a form of punishment of their inmates. See Benjamin and Rappaport, Attica and Prison Reform. Otherwise known as "the hole," solitary confinement at Attica required that the prisoners to be locked in a so-called "strip cell" alone for 24 hours a day. According to some accounts, inmates in "the hole" would be forced to sleep naked on the concrete floor of their cell. Their toilet was a hole in the floor. All of this was deemed to be in furtherance of a legitimate goal of the penal system: namely, disciplining "unruly" inmates who had blatantly violated facility regulations. Benjamin and Rappaport, Attica and Prison Reform; Bandele, After the Attica Uprising; The Nation: War at Attica: Was There No Other Way?, TIME MAGAZINE, Sept. 27, 1971.

The problems in the prison also had a racial component. A total of 63 percent of the inmate population in Attica at the time was African-American or Hispanic. All of the 383 corrections officers working at the prison at that time were white. See McCabe, Crime History -- Attica prison riot begins, ending with 39 killed. Non-white prisoners often found themselves the target of race-based attacks by the guards. See Bandele, After the Attica Uprising; Louis D. Mitchell, Attica: A Microcosm Of The Ghetto, CRISIS, 1972, Vol. 79 (7), 226-28. Some guards targeted the African-American population in particular, striking them without provocation using state-issued batons, which certain guards dubbed "nigger sticks." Other guards specifically went after the Muslim inmates, banning them from holding even the most basic of religious services. Added to the confluence of factors that were already causing outrage among the prisoners, the racist behavior of some -- though, importantly, not all -- corrections officers in the prison only served to worsen the climate in Attica throughout the summer months of 1971. See Mitchell, Attica: A Microcosm Of The Ghetto. It would be such treatment that would lead Albert Victory, an Attica prisoner who took part in the rebellion, to later state to the media that the inmates "just couldn't take it anymore." Bandele, After the Attica Uprising.

Outside the citadel-like walls of Attica, a similar climate of unrest was brewing. The Vietnam War was at perhaps its most unpopular point, with the death toll of Americans crossing the threshold of 50,000 casualties. See generally Tom Wells, The War Within: America's Battle Over Vietnam, 1994. The Civil Rights Movement had lost two key figures to assassination -- Malcolm X (1965) and Martin Luther King, Jr. (1968) -- and had gained new leaders who demanded the achievement of equal rights by any means necessary, including violence. See generally PETER B. LEVY, THE CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT (1998) (asserting that the movement became more violent, particularly in certain cities, after the assassination of King). Labor unrest was prevalent throughout the nation, too, with massive strikes in 1970 by U.S. postal workers and by General Motors employees, and a campaign by dock workers in 1971 that shut down all 56 ports on America's West Coast. U.S. President Richard Nixon had ended the last of these strikes by using the terms the Taft-Hartley Law to force the dock workers to return to their jobs. Throughout the nation, protests and rallies emerged against declining living standards, unemployment, racial prejudice, and the war in Vietnam. Some of those protests led to violent encounters between protesters and law enforcement, with the worst clashes of this nature coming in May of 1970, when students protesting the war were shot and killed by National Guard troops at Kent State University in Ohio and Jackson State University in Mississippi. See Peter Davies, The Truth About Kent State: A Challenge To The American Conscience, 1973. As a whole, the state of the nation was that of a powder keg. And from coast to coast at this time, people were lighting matches and charging full-force into the resulting explosions.

The first lighted match struck at Attica came on September 8, 1971. Two inmates got into a fight in one of the facility's recreation yards and were ordered into solitary confinement by Attica's superintendent, Vincent Mancusi. As several corrections officers forcibly dragged the two handcuffed men to "the hole," slapping them and beating them with batons as they went, one outraged prisoner threw a soup can at the guards. This inmate was immediately ordered to remain in his cell indefinitely -- a punishment known as "keeplock" --for his actions.

The next day, however, due to a series of careless mistakes by one of the officers on duty, the other prisoners on his cell block were able to free the inmate from keeplock so he could join them in the silent breakfast vigil protesting George Jackson's death. By the time the breakfast period had ended, however, prison officials had figured out that the inmate had been wrongfully let out of his cell for breakfast. As punishment, the entire group of prisoners was ordered back to their cells, rather than being let into the yard for their scheduled recreation time. As they were being led back to the cell block, the inmates began to yell at the officer who was leading them, demanding that they receive their scheduled time in the yard. The officer began talking back to the prisoners, allegedly trying to calm them. One of the inmates threw a punch at the guard. Another inmate rapidly followed suit. And within seconds, the uprising was underway. See Bandele, After the Attica Uprising; Benjamin and Rappaport, Attica and Prison Reform; Rubenstein, Attica Now.

The unplanned rebellion quickly turned brutal, as the mob of prisoners ran unguarded through the tunnels of the prison into the facility's central control room. Twenty-eight-year-old William Quinn, the father of two young children, was the officer on duty there. He attempted to call for help over the prison's public address system when he saw them prisoners coming, but the mob got to him too quickly. Pulling the phone out of the wall, the prisoners beat Quinn until he was unconscious. Later, when the initial mob had calmed, two inmates would return to the control room, place Quinn on a mattress, and carry him to the prison's Administration Building, telling guards there that "Officer Quinn needs help." But the effort would prove to be too late. Two days later, Quinn would die from the injuries sustained in the attack by the inmates, the only casualty of the Attica uprising whose wounds were not inflicted by State Police bullets. See Patrice Walsh, Daughter Of Guard Killed At Attica: 'Knowing What Happened Is Healing', ABC NEWS, available at http://www.13wham.com/news/local/story/attica-riots/1tQwQSLtg0ytzRE4AGtdUQ.cspx.

Following the attack on Quinn, the group of prisoners tore down the gates that led to the point where the prison's four recreation yards converged, an area nicknamed "Times Square." Then they opened the passageways to the rest of the prison. A wave of more than 1,000 inmates rushed into the "Times Square" area, completely overwhelming the officers on duty with fists, chains, pieces of pipe, and anything else that the inmates could pick up and use as a weapon. A group of 40 guards were taken as hostages and hauled into a corner of the yard. Within a matter of minutes, Attica Correctional Facility was under the control of its inmates. See Rubenstein, Attica Now; TOM WICKER, A TIME TO DIE (1975).

With surprising speed, the prisoners organized themselves into committees. A group of African-American Muslim inmates -- the demographic faction most frequently target for brutality by the guards -- set up a security perimeter around the officers whom the inmates had taken hostage, keeping them safe from harm by the other inmates. Bandele, After The Attica Uprising. They released certain other hostages so that they could seek medical help at the prison hospital. Id. They appointed a representative council to serve as spokesmen in the negotiations which they demanded to have with Russell Oswald, the Department of Correctional Services Commissioner who had ignored the inmates' petition that had been sent to him just one month earlier. They drafted a list of demands, ranging from better medical care to more humane parole polices to the abolition of racist acts by prison staff, all of which they said needed to be met before they would relinquish control of the prison back to the Department of Correctional Services. And they demanded that a group of outside observers come to Attica to help facilitate the peaceful bargaining over the inmates' grievances with the prison system. See WICKER, A TIME TO DIE.

The group of observers arrived the following day, an eclectic mix that included New York State Senator John Dunne, New York State Assemblyman Arthur Eve, noted civil rights attorney William Kunstler, Black Panther leader Bobby Seale, and journalist Tom Wicker of The New York Times. WICKER, A TIME TO DIE. Despite the presence of these people, however, negotiations between the prisoners and Oswald were unsuccessful from the start. See Boston, Four Decades After Attica Uprising. Among the demands from the prisoners was a requirement of amnesty for all of their actions surrounding the uprising -- a major point, given that New York State, at that time, authorized the death penalty. Oswald said that he could not promise such a thing. And on September 11, when William Quinn died from the wounds inflicted by the inmates in the early minutes of the rebellion, any glimmer of a compromise between the prisoners and Oswald was quickly extinguished. See Bandele, After The Attica Uprising.

Seeking additional support, Oswald asked New York State Governor Nelson Rockefeller to come to Attica and meet with the inmates, hoping that the governor's presence would encourage the prisoners that they demands were being heard by the state's government. Yet Rockefeller refused. And when the governor refused to come to Attica, Oswald made the statement that would later live in infamy: that he would like the governor to request the State Police to retake the prison by force. Rockefeller agreed that this would be an appropriate move to make. See Benjamin and Rappaport, Attica And Prison Reform.

On September 12, four members of the team of observers telephoned Rockefeller's office. For 90 minutes, they begged the governor to meet with the inmates. Such a move, they said, could help avoid further violence. Rockefeller, however, would not budge. American Experience -- People & Events: Attica Prison Riot, PBS, 1999-2000, available at http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/rockefellers/peopleevents/e_attica.html. Later, the state government would allege that the governor could not come to the scene of the uprising because of danger to his life, even claiming that inmates were castrating hostages and threatening to slit their throats. However, no affirmative proof that such actions took place has ever been uncovered. See, e.g., Dippel, The Attica Muse.

By the morning of September 13, it had become evident to the inmates that they were at a stalemate with the state government. Restless, they dug trenches, fashioned battlements out of dirt and old pieces of metal, and set up drums of gasoline to ignite if a conflict arose. See The Nation: War At Attica. Reporters from many of the nation's major news outlets circled the yard in helicopters, reporting on the events occurring below them. Several journalists reported that the inmates were "preparing" some of the hostages for execution. Id. With such news being broadcast to the nation, Oswald decided that he could wait no longer. He asked Rockefeller to give the order for the State Police to take Attica back by force. "On a much smaller scale," the Department of Correctional Services Commissioner would say later, "I think I have some feeling now of how Truman must have felt when he decided to drop the A-bomb." Id.

The police arrived at Attica at 9:46 a.m. They came in helicopters and dropped canisters of tear gas into the yard where the prisoners and the hostages were stationed, filling the entire area with a blinding cloud of smoke. Then the shooting began. See WICKER, A TIME TO DIE. Nobody knows who fired the first shot. Sources disagree greatly as to how long the firing actually lasted. But by the time the smoke cleared, 29 hostages and 10 inmates were dead, with others seriously wounded. See Heather Ann Thompson, The Lingering Injustice of Attica, N.Y. TIMES, Sept. 8, 2011. Nearly 1,000 law enforcement officers had participated in the "raid" to take back the prison from the prisoners. Id. One inmate, held in this maximum-security facility for the minor charge of forging a check, had been shot 15 times. Bandele, After The Attica Uprising. The weapons used by the state troopers ranged from shotguns to submachine guns. Use of Shotguns in Attica Revolt Deplored in House Unit's Report, N.Y. TIMES, June 27, 1973. "I could see all this blood just running out of the mud and water," one inmate later told a journalist. "That's all I could see." Thompson, The Lingering Injustice of Attica.

Yet for the inmates, the worst was still to come. With the prison "taken back" and restored to the control of the Department Of Correctional Services, armed guards forced the inmates to lie face down in the yard, filled with mud from the morning's rain and blood from the morning's bullets. They were forced to crawl on their hands and knees into one corner of one of the recreation yards, where they were stripped of all their clothing. Then they were forced to re-enter the prison by running through a gauntlet of corrections officers who beat them with batons, gun butts, and anything else they could get their hands on, knocking more than one inmate unconscious. Inside the cells, the guards had littered the floor with broken glass. Each prisoner was made to walk -- or crawl, if they could not stand -- naked across the glass shards. For months after that day, the inmates experienced a variety of physical and psychological tortures at the hands of the corrections officers -- the people who, according to their job description, had been hired in part to see that the inmates in the prison came to no harm. See Bandele, After The Attica Uprising; Thompson, The Lingering Injustice of Attica; Michael E. Deutsch et al, Twenty Years Later -- Attica Civil Rights Case Finally Cleared For Trial, SOCIAL JUSTICE, 1991, Vol. 18 (3), pgs. 13-25.

The police actions on September 13, 1971, did gain the apparent approval of at least two individuals: the Governor of New York and the President of United States. A set of tapes discovered by historian Theresa Lynch at the National Archives in 2004 reveal a conversation between Rockefeller and President Richard Nixon in which Nixon offers high praise for Rockefeller's decision to send in the state troopers. "You did the right thing," Nixon reassures Rockefeller in the conversation recorded on the tapes. "It's a tragedy that these poor fellows were shot, but I just want you to know that's my view, and I've told the troops around here that I back that right to the hilt." Nixon, Rockefeller discuss Attica uprising in newly published presidential tapes, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS, Sept. 13, 2011. At another point in the conversation, Rockefeller refers to the police work as "a beautiful operation." Id.

Later in the conversation, Rockefeller informed Nixon that some of the hostages died in the raid. "Well, you know, this is one of those things," the Governor told the President. "You can't have sharp shooters picking off the prisoners when the hostages are there with them . . . without maybe having a few accidents." Id. "Oh, sure," Nixon responded. "Well, you saved a lot of the guards." Id.

Yet the nation did not learn about these "accidents" right away. The initial inquiry into the actions of September 13 was conducted by investigators from the state police, virtually guaranteeing that the findings would be slanted to favor the law enforcement personnel involved in taking back the prison. See Thompson, The Lingering Injustice of Attica. Sure enough, 62 inmates received criminal charges -- on a grand total of 1,289 separate counts -- for their roles in the uprising. See McCabe, Crime History--Attica prison riot begins, ending with 39 killed. In contrast, only one state trooper faced a criminal charge for his role in the shootings on a day that has since become known as "Black Monday." Id.

The truth about Attica emerged slowly. Details trickled out from behind the prison walls through the persistence of a few groups of people. One was the New York State Special Commission on Attica, more popularly known as the McKay Commission in honor of the dean of New York University Law School who chaired it. Although criticized by some commentators today for failing to thoroughly investigate certain aspects of the uprising, the McKay Commission was the first to truly highlight the role of the New York State government in the violent end to the uprising. It criticized state officials for allowing false rumors to spread about what was happening in the yard and excoriated the police for using excessive force against the inmates. It essentially forced Rockefeller to admit that the deaths of the hostages in the yard were from state police bullets, not from any actions taken by the inmates. It noted that certain allegations -- such as the claim that one hostage had been castrated by the inmates -- were completely baseless. Most importantly, it cast significant doubt on the police findings that the inmates were the only individuals deserving of criminal charges in the entire affair. See, e.g., Rubenstein, Attica Now; Boston, Four Decades After Attica Uprising; William E. Farrell, Rockefeller Lays Hostages Deaths To Troopers' Fire, N.Y. TIMES, Sept. 17, 1971.

The greatest days of reckoning for the state government, however, came in 1997 and 2005. Not long after the uprising, a group of civil rights attorneys agreed to represent a group of 1,200 Attica prisoners in a class-action civil rights lawsuit against the state. In 1991, around the twentieth anniversary of the rebellion, the trial for this suit finally began. See Deutsch et al, Twenty Years Later -- Attica Civil Rights Case Finally Cleared For Trial. Six years later, the state agreed to pay $12 million to the inmates and their families to settle the case. Thompson, The Lingering Injustice of Attica. Then, in 2005, the state reached a similar settlement with the families of the prison workers slain in the September 13 shootings, paying out another $12 million to rid themselves of that class-action lawsuit. Id.

To many outraged commentators, though, the settlements amounted to nothing more than hush money. Indeed, to this day, the state has made no official admission that state troopers killed inmates and guards on September 13, nor has the state admitted that any excessive force was ever used during the raid or within the prison in the events leading up to the uprising, nor has the state government admitted that the inmates suffered brutal repercussions at the hands of state-employed corrections officers in the months after the rebellion. See Bandele, After the Attica Uprising; Thompson, The Lingering Injustice of Attica.

And perhaps it is because of this lack of a bona fide admission of unclean hands that New York State -- and, indeed, the entire nation -- still experiences many of the same problems and conditions that set the stage for the Attica uprising in the first place. The attitude of "the criminal" as someone who is less than human, and thus is open to whatever inhumane treatment the penal system can dream up, remains very much alive. See Vicky Munro-Bjorklund, Popular Cultural Images Of Criminals and Prisoners Since Attica, SOCIAL JUSTICE, 1991, Vol. 18 (3), pgs. 48-70.

Astonishingly, certain New York State officials displayed an incredible lack of understanding of these issues even in the immediate aftermath of Attica. Oswald's initial solution to the problems of Attica was to build "a super-maximum-security prison" in which "the most rebellious and incorrigible inmates" would be confined. Under Oswald's plan, the new prison would be equipped to house 500 inmates, and every guard would be heavily armed. Only resistance from some key members of the New York State Legislature, including State Senator John Dunne -- who referred to Oswald's plan as "a present-day Devil's Island" -- prevented the "super-max" facility from being built according to Oswald's wishes. Prisons: Attica Aftermath, TIME MAGAZINE, Oct. 11, 1971. As for the corrections officers themselves, the guards' union publicly blamed the revolt at Attica on "a too-permissive atmosphere" at the prison, claiming that the inmates had far too many freedoms and a tighter, more disciplined approach to prison governance was necessary. Id. The state's major concession to prison reform in the year following the uprising? Along with appointing the McKay Commission to study the causes of the revolt, the state laid out $7 million for a modernization program at Attica that included a larger library and a better gymnasium in the facility. Id.

Such an approach to reform underscored the state's lack of understanding of legitimate prison needs in 1971. The uprising at Attica was not fought to gain more books in the library or a modernized basketball court in the gym. Rather, it was fought by men desperate to receive basic fundamental human rights guaranteed to them by the laws on this nation -- guarantees that had not been absolved because these men had committed criminal offenses. A close examination of the demands of the Attica rebellion leaders does not reveal unreasonable requests. Indeed, for the most part, they are simply asking to retain the rights which this state and this nation are already obligated by law to provide to them.
Yet many of these same problems surrounding prison conditions continue in 2011. With the American prison population today currently close to 2.4 million inmates -- compared with 300,000 inmates at the time of Attica -- the number of people affected by these issues is greater than ever. See Thompson, The Lingering Injustice of Attica.

And prison uprisings in America are hardly a thing of the past. In December 2010, for instance, inmates at six Georgia penitentiaries took part in the largest prison strike in U.S. history, starting as a one-day work stoppage when prisoners refused to leave their cells and stretching into a coordinated week-long effort. See Bandele, After the Attica Uprising. As one 20-year-old inmate told a reporter during the strike, "We locked ourselves down because . . . we can't be treated as animals." Id. In the summer of 2011, prisoners in solitary confinement (now given the euphemism of "Secure Housing Units") at California's Pelican Bay Prison held a hunger strike to protest guard brutality against prisoners in "the box." Id. The fast lasted 20 days, with the inmates resuming eating again only at the encouragement of one of their outside advocates when they were in danger of dying from starvation. Id.

This is not to say that prison reforms were never adopted in New York State and nationwide after the tragedy at Attica. In New York, the Department of Correctional Services eventually established an inmate grievance system where prisoners could air their complaints and have them be heard without resorting to violence. See Eljeer Hawkins, The Attica Prison Uprising at 40, Sept. 4, 2011, available at http://www.voxunion.com/?p=4102. The state also made an effort to provide more nutritious food for inmates, extended inmate rights with regard to mail service, and attempted to hire more African-American and Hispanic guards. Id. State leaders established new educational programs at its prisons, looking to provide inmates opportunities that would ease their transition back to society. Dippel, The Attica Muse. And the state created a new legal institution -- Prisoners' Legal Services of New York -- that provided indigent inmates free legal representation in civil rights matters and other specified legal issues, and, despite having to survive several rounds of state budget cuts, continues to actively provide this service to inmates throughout New York State today. See Our History--Prisoners' Legal Services of New York, http://www.plsny.org/html/our_history.html.

But the difficulties in the state's prison system -- and the nation's incarceration facilities -- are far from over. Fundamental human rights are still denied to prisoners under the guise of "security measures" and the ultimate catchphrase of "legitimate penalogical aims." See, e.g., Thompson, The Lingering Injustice of Attica. Blatant racism and religious prejudices remain all-too-commonplace among corrections officers in prisons today. See Bandele, After the Attica Uprising. And as prisons continue to bulge with inmates in a society where incarceration has become the instant reaction, not the last resort, of the criminal justice system, an ever-growing number of individuals will continue to suffer from these problems. It is only by continuing to address these issues of prisoners' rights and becoming more vigilant against abuses of these people in the custody of the state that we can ensure that the tragic events of 40 years ago will not recur in the present day.

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