The Attica Correctional Facility is located in Attica, New York state. Rioting broke out there on September 9, 1971. The proximate cause of the riot was the death of prisoner George Jackson, a black radical prisoner who had been shot to death by corrections officers in California’s San Quentin Prison on August 21 while armed and attempting to escape. However, the conditions inside the prison also contributed to the riot’s outbreak – at that time, inmates were each allowed only one shower per week and one roll of toilet paper per month.
Nearly half of the prison’s approximately 2,200 inmates rioted, seizing control of the prison and taking thirty-three correction officers hostage. The State began negotiating with the prisoners for their release, and during the following four days of negotiations, the authorities agreed to 28 of the prisoners’ demands.
However, the demands for complete amnesty from criminal prosecution for the prison takeover and for the removal of Attica’s superintendent, remained sticking points. On September 13, at the order of then Governor Nelson Rockefeller, state police took back control of the prison. When the uprising was over at least 39 people were dead, including ten correction officers and civilian employees – all but one of whom were killed by friendly fire.