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Crime News

'ATTICA', A Documentary About America's Deadliest Prison Uprising, Is Coming Soon

"ATTICA" will focus on the five-day prison uprising that originated after inmates asked for better conditions and led to 43 deaths.

By Ted Quarterman
Attica Prison Uprising G

Emmy-award winning documentarian Stanley Nelson has announced the upcoming premiere of his latest film, "ATTICA," which will explore the details of an infamous prison riot that took place in upstate New York.

Although the deadly ordeal occurred in 1971, the tragedy at Attica Correctional Facility is “just as relevant fifty years later,” Vinnie Malhotra, the Vice President of Showtime Networks’ Nonfiction Programming, said, according to a press release from Showtime.

"ATTICA" closely investigates the myriad circumstances that culminated in the deaths of 43 people, including prisoners and correctional workers, over the course of the five-day uprising, with Pulitzer Prize-winning author Dr. Heather Ann Thompson serving as lead historical consultant for the film, the outlet reports. It'll also focus on how race and punishment intersect, and how prisoners' rights are an offshoot of civil rights.

“It’s a dramatic story, with so many great voices that have not been heard,” Nelson said. “The uprising and its aftermath shaped the present in ways I think will be surprising to an audience.”

The uprising at Attica began in September 1971, after inmates lobbied for better conditions in a prison where they were allowed one roll of toilet paper per month and one shower a week, regularly went hungry, and were harassed by guards, according to The New York Times. The tension reached a breaking point when inmates, spooked by the rumor of guards killing a prisoner, were able to overpower the guards and take control of the prison, The New Yorker reports.

Despite attempts at negotiations, with prisoners requesting better living conditions and amnesty for the riot, then-Governor Nelson Rockefeller sent in state troopers to retake the prison after five days, which led to the deaths of prisoners and guards alike. Inmates were savagely beaten and abused following the troopers' arrival, according to the New York Times.

“The Attica uprising of 1971 happened because ordinary men, poor men, disenfranchised men, and men of color had simply had enough of being treated as less than human. That desire, and their fight, is by far Attica’s most important legacy," Thompson wrote in her book about the uprising, "Blood In The Water," the outlet reports.

"ATTICA" premieres on Showtime in 2021, the 50th anniversary of the uprising.