NY corrections officials lift prison ban on Attica uprising book

ALBANY, NY — New York authorities have lifted a ban that had stopped state prison inmates from reading a book about the 1971 Attica Correctional Facility uprising following a First Amendment lawsuit brought by its author.

State officials, however, said they will continue to censor one small part of the Pulitzer-prize winning book for security reasons. A two-page map of Attica will be removed from copies sent into the prisons.

Author Heather Ann Thompson, a historian and professor at the University of Michigan, sued the state’s prisons in March over the ban on her book “Blood in the Water: The Attica Uprising of 1971.”

Inmates at Attica State Prison raise their hands in clenched fists in a show of unity in September 1971, during the Attica uprising, which took the lives of 43 people.  New York authorities have lifted a ban that had stopped state prison inmates from reading a book about the 1971 Attica Correctional Facility uprising following a First Amendment lawsuit brought by its author.  (AP Photo, File)

Published in 2016, the book is one of the most comprehensive accounts of the uprising, where more than 1,300 inmates took over part of a prison in upstate New York to protest years of mistreatment. It ended when state troopers and guards shot tear gas into a prison yard before firing hundreds of rounds into the smoke.

In total, 39 inmates and staff were fatally shot in the retaking. Three inmates and a correctional officer were killed by prisoners in the initial uprising and the standoff that ensued. No law enforcement officers put on trial for their role in the massacre, and inmates originally accused of crimes were granted pardons and amnesty as the state tried to close the book on the nation’s deadliest prison uprising.

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