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Attica Prison Riot And Prison Reform

2115 words - 8 pages

We live in a society today filled with crime and fear. We are told not to go out after a certain hour, always move in groups, and even at times advised to carry a weapon on ourselves. There is only one thing that gives us piece of mind in this new and frightening world we live in: the American penal system. We are taught when growing up to believe that all of the bad people in the world are locked up, far out of sight and that we are out of reach of their dangerous grasp. Furthermore, the murderers and rapists we watch on television, we believe once are caught are to be forgotten and never worried about again. We wish on them the most horrible fates and to rot in the caged institution they are forced to call their new home. But, where do we draw the line of cruelty to those who are some of the cruelest people in our country? And what happens when one of this most strict and strongest institution our nation has breaks down? What do we do when this piece of mind, the one thing that lets us sleep at night, suddenly disappears? This is exactly what happened during and in the after effects of the Attica prison riot of 1971. The riot created an incredibly immense shift and change not only in the conditions of prisons, but also in the security we feel as American citizens both in our penal system and American government. The Attica prison riot brought about a much-needed prison reform in terms of safety and conditions for inmates, which was necessary regardless of the social backlash it created and is still felt today.
The 1970s in the United States was a time of incredible change, doubt, as well as reform. The many issues happening throughout the country helped to lead to the discomfort in many prisoners that eventually lead to their escape and takeover attempts. One of the many issues that were plaguing the United States during the seventies was the end of the Vietnam War. What initially started as a conflict, soon turned into a bloody war from which the United States saw no end in sight. The approval rating of the war got smaller and smaller as the years progressed, finally getting as low as a slim fifty percent in support before we withdrew our troops from Vietnam. The main people who were not in support were a small group of liberals with a large voice. They boasted statistics such as the fact that we were funneling twenty-five billion dollars into the war annually while forty thousand men were being sent over seas monthly. The anti-war protests on college campuses, Martin Luther King Junior’s public denouncement, as well as the Tet Offensive, were the catalysts to the end of the war. Finally, it seemed as though we would be getting our men back home. But, what they came home to was not the warm welcome they were expecting. Not only were they not welcomed as heroes as had been expected; they came home to a country with an absurdly high unemployment rate and who was in serious trouble. Soldiers who had just come home soon “ became part of...

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