Attica Prison Riot
Although the rhetoric surrounding the prison system was that of therapy and reform, this could not hide the repressive character of prisons and the racism inherent in the American justice system. Racism in the justice system was increasingly attacked by Civil Rights activists, who could draw on Cold War talk of democracy and citizenship rights and focus them on the racist practices in U.S. prisons.
If democracy was to be enforced in prisons, why not start by attacking the racist incarceration practices?
September 1971, three weeks after black inmate George Jackson had been shot in Soledad Prison, inmates at Attica Prison seized over four of the five prison blocks and took more than 30 guards and civilian workers hostage.
The spokesperson of the rioters issued a statement that shows how prisoners referred to notions of prisons as institutions of a democratic society: