In 1971, 1,300 prisoners rebelled against their guards and took over the Attica Prison facility in Western New York State. They held forty guards hostage. They had a list of demands for better living conditions including showers, education and vocational training. .
After seven days of negotiations between the prisoners and government authorities, the national guard and state police seized the prison, killing forty-three people, including ten hostages. .
The Medical Examiner's reports said the statements of prison officials regarding the alleged atrocities committed against hostages. Autopsies revealed that hostages did not die from having their throats slashed by their captors, as had first been suggested by prison officials, but from the troops' deadly fire. Perhaps because of the Depression economy, perhaps for other reasons as well, no Attica inmate has ever seen the institution described above. When Attica opened, there was no cafeteria with food under glass, no recreation room, no automatic signal system, and no sunlight streaming into the cells. There was, in fact, nothing but another huge, foreboding prison. With the unprecedented emphasis on security visible in every brick and every door, this "last word in modern prison construction," far from doing away with locks and keys made them the focal point around which all life revolved. .
When Attica opened, over 130 years had passed since Auburn Prison was built; the population of New York State had changed vastly; the entire social structure of the nation had been dramatically altered; new laws and social conditions had altered the very nature of crime itself; theories of human behavior had been radically modified by the developing social sciences. In fact, everything had changed -- everything but the prisons. They were still built in the silent congregate style of .
Prisoners who either have been released or been able to reach the independent media from jail tell of beatings in the jails, denial of food, water, and medicine, and the denial of legal counsel to those arrested.