Three Major Prison Riots: Causes and Outcomes

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A prison riot occurs "when the authorities lose control of a significant number of prisoners, in a significant area of the prison, for a significant amount of time" (Useem and Kimball, 4, quoted in Gaes, 27). The sad fact is that prison riots occur all too often, and they do not occur in a vacuum.


As will be shown below, in each of these cases, the prisoners felt abandoned and ignored by the administration, and they felt like they had no other choice but to riot in order to get their demands heard.
On the morning of September 9, 1971, prisoners at the Attica Correctional Facility were rounded up and told that one of the inmates had to remain in his cell (Attica Prison Riots). Rumors began flying that this prisoner was going to be tortured by the prison guards (Attica Prison Riots). Five of his companions decided that they were not going to let that happen. They freed him, and when one of the guards went to check on the status of the prisoner, he was attacked (Attica Prison Riots). The riot had begun.
This riot had actually been a long time in the making. Inmates had written a letter to prison officials, telling what some of their concerns were. This letter was completely ignored (Attica Prison Riots). The prisoners probably felt like they had no other choice if they were going to get anything resolved. Here are some of the things that sparked the prisoners' anger:
2) Bad living conditions: The prisoners were only allowed to have one roll of toilet paper a month and one bucket of water a week to use as a shower (Attica Prison Riots). ...
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