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Topics in Criminal Justice: Attica Prison Riot

On the forty-fifth anniversary of the Attica Prison riot, Heather Ann Thompson releases her book, "Blood in the Water: The Attica Prison Uprising of 1971 and its Legacy," an overview of how the infamous riot occurred, how the state responded, and a look at the riot's impact on the victims and the correctional system in the months and years following the riot. Keep reading to find out more on the Attica uprising and the topical resources available through Dewey.

The Uprising

The Attica uprising began on September 9th and ended on September 13th at the Attica correctional facility in Attica, New York when around 1,000 of the prison's 2,200 inmates took control of the prison, taking 42 staff hostage. The riot was a result of a variety of issues such as a demand for better living conditions -- due to the overcrowding in the prison at the time -- and racial conflict. On the 13th, a group of New York State Police, National Guardsmen, and assorted volunteers moved on the prison to regain control. In the end, 43 people were killed, of which 10 were hostages and 33 were prisoners. The impact of Attica did not simply cease when the riot did, though, as investigations and class action lawsuits occurred, with a final monetary settlement not occurring until 2005.

Research Resources

Heather Ann Thompson gives a definitive history of the Attica uprising, but if you're looking for a primary source on the Attica riot, "The Official Report of the New York State Special Commission on Attica" is your best option. If you're looking for content from the time the riot occurred, you could consult ProQuest Historical Newspapers or the New York Times - ProQuest Historical Newspapers databases. When using either of these databases, you should view the "Publication date" graph and enter the date range you require. Perhaps you just want articles from the month the riot occurred (September 1971), or if you want more information from the months following the attack you could go into 1972. Some secondary sources can be found in Minerva by searching under subject "Attica Correctional Facility" or "Prison riots--New York (State)."

Databases & Helpful Links

Books Available at the University Libraries

Need Additional Assistance?

Help is available! Contact Cathy Dwyer, Subject Librarian for Criminal Justice, at (518) 442-3699 or - or drop by during Cathy's office hours, held weekly on Mondays from 4-7pm.

Blog Created By: Kristen Thornton-De Stafeno
Image Credit: Wiki Commons

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