As will be shown below, in each of these cases, the prisoners felt abandoned and ignored by the administration, and they felt like they had no other choice but to riot in order to get their demands heard.
On the morning of September 9, 1971, prisoners at the Attica Correctional Facility were rounded up and told that one of the inmates had to remain in his cell (Attica Prison Riots). Rumors began flying that this prisoner was going to be tortured by the prison guards (Attica Prison Riots). Five of his companions decided that they were not going to let that happen. They freed him, and when one of the guards went to check on the status of the prisoner, he was attacked (Attica Prison Riots). The riot had begun.
This riot had actually been a long time in the making. Inmates had written a letter to prison officials, telling what some of their concerns were. This letter was completely ignored (Attica Prison Riots). The prisoners probably felt like they had no other choice if they were going to get anything resolved. Here are some of the things that sparked the prisoners’ anger:
2) Bad living conditions: The prisoners were only allowed to have one roll of toilet paper a month and one bucket of water a week to use as a shower (Attica Prison Riots). …
In addition, they were denied any educational opportunities (Attica Prison Riots).
3) Racial factors: "54% of the inmates were African American and 9% Puerto Rican. however, all of the 383 correctional officers were white" (Attica Prison Riots). The prison guards hit the inmates with large batons they called "Nigger Sticks" (Attica Prison Riots). There was no shortage of racism at Attica.
Four days after the riots began, Governor Rockefeller ordered state troopers to end it by any means necessary (Attica Prison Riots). The state troopers opened fire, killing 10 guards and 29 prisoners (Attica Prison Riots). One officer died from wounds he received at the hands of inmates at the beginning of the riot, and four inmates were killed as a result of "inmate justice" (Attica Prison Riots).
Even though Governor Rockefeller refused to respond to the inmates’ demands, the riot did call attention to the need for prison reform all across the United States, especially in regards to race relations (Attica Prison Riots). In the more than 35 years since the riot took place, there has been a major push in many areas of the country to increase the numbers of minority employees, and to teach non-minority employees how to have a better understanding of multicultural differences (Camp, Saylor, and Wright, 1). In 1988, the state of New York finally settled a wrongful death lawsuit with the families of the prisoners who were killed when the state troopers opened fire (Attica Prison Riots). In 2004, the state paid out a 12 million dollar financial settlement to the families of the officers who were killed that day.
McAlester, OK: Oklahoma State Penitentiary
The riot that occurred in McAlester, OK, had similar causes. At two-thirty in the afternoon on July 27,