Some people have been handcuffed, then beaten with sticks, and the cries for help are so loud but useless, because there is no help. So our voices remain trapped behind this wall. The 1971 [Attica] riot led people across the country to hear the voice of incarcerated persons, exposing the foulness of the torture and inhumane conditions. Today, the same foulness that went on in the past is going on today. – Person incarcerated at Attica
Attica Correctional Facility continues to operate as a symbolic and real epicenter of state violence and abuse of incarcerated persons in New York State prisons. The history of the 1971 rebellion and the state’s violent suppression still infuse Attica’s walls and operations. Recent and ongoing investigations of Attica by the Correctional Association reveal systemic and brutal staff-inflicted physical assaults, verbal and racial harassment, threats, intimidation, and excessive use of punishment and solitary confinement. An underlying culture and environment of abuse – not a few individual bad actors – drive the dehumanization and brutalization taking place.
The abuses taking place behind Attica’s walls are an affront to humanity and nothing short of closing the prison will end them. At the same time that Attica must be closed, staff violence and abuse must end across all New York State prisons. Similar levels of racist brutality take place at Clinton, Greene, and elsewhere, and permeate the entire state prison system. DOCCS, state policy-makers, and the public must work toward a fundamental transformation of the culture and environment of punishment and violence at other prisons so long as they exist, and ultimately an end of mass incarceration. Brutality, punishment, and abuse must be replaced with transformative practices, communication, de-escalation, empowerment, healing, growth, and mutual respect.
“Voices from Attica” is a compilation of twelve powerful narratives of people incarcerated at Attica Correctional Facility in 2014 which paints a vivid and chilling picture of endemic staff violence and abuse at this infamous prison. Read it here.
The CA is part of a campaign to close Attica and end violence and abuse across all New York State prisons. This campaign meets the second Monday of every month at the Correctional Association (2090 Adam Clayton Powell, Suite 200). This is a new campaign, led by people who have been incarcerated in these violent prisons and their family members. We need you to join us! Sign up here to join the campaign. Together, we can end the brutality and abuse behind the walls.