The Attica Prison Riot of 1971 alarmed and outraged society. The public outrage brought about long overdue prison reforms including changes to public policy and administration. The riot began on September 9, 1971 and ended on September 13, 1971 when state police stormed the prison and opened fire. The re-taking of the prison left ten employees and twenty-nine inmates dead. During the riot itself one employee and three inmates were killed. The exact causes or incidents that led to the uprising are still argued today. There are different views on the events that incited the riot in the first place, the tragedies that occurred during the riot and the handling of the riot. However, one thing is certain, the riot did more than just raise an eyebrow it caught the attention of both the general public and government officials which in turn made it blatantly obvious that the prison system was in need of massive reform.
Attica spawned the prison reform movement and over the past thirty years many policies have been changed and/or created to improve the overall living conditions and treatment of prisoners. The following is a list of demands the inmates set forth during negotiations according to Frank "Big Black" Smith (1998), one of the inmate leaders of the rebellion:
The Fifteen Practical Proposals
1. Apply the New York State minimum wage law to all state institutions. STOP SLAVE LABOR.
2. Allow all New York State prisoners to be politically active, without intimidation or reprisals.
3. Give us true religious freedom.
4. End all censorship of newspapers, magazines, letters and other publications coming from the publisher.
5. Allow all inmates, at their own expense, to communicate with anyone they please.
6. When an inmate reaches conditional release date, give him a full release without parole.