Skip to Main Content
New York State Library Logo

The Attica Uprising

The Attica Uprising, September 9-13, 1971

The Attica prison riot began on September 9, 1971, when about 1,000 of the approximately 2,200 inmates in the Attica Correctional Facility, in Attica NY rebelled and seized control of the prison. The riot was based in part upon prisoners' demands for better living conditions - Attica was severely overcrowded at the time - but may also have been triggered in part by an recent incident at San Quentin Prison in California, where George Jackson, a black radical activist prisoner, was shot to death by corrections officers on August 21.

Forty-three staff members were taken hostage during the riot, which gave the prisoners some negotiating leverage. During the following four days, authorities agreed to many of the prisoners' demands, but there were two points on which they would not concede: amnesty from criminal prosecution for the prisoners involved in the takeover, and the removal of Attica's superintendent. As negotiations broke down and hostages' lives were threatened, state police, on the order of Governor Nelson Rockefeller, stormed the prison and regained control of Attica.

When the uprising was over, 43 people were dead, including ten correctional officers and civilian employees.

Times Union Articles on Attica Uprising

Cartoon showing prison tower with writing on the wall and a photo of people crying

Albany Times Union, Hy Rosen Cartoon

Political Cartoon by Hy Rosen, published in the Albany Times Union.

The photo inset is captioned "Attica, N.Y. - Relatives of hostages weep outside Attica prison."

Text box on prison reads: "Armed Rebellion of the Type Threatens Destruction of our Free Society - N.Y. State Correction Commissioner Oswald". 


Times Union headline with subheading and two pictures in dark contrast

Albany Times Union Headline, September 14, 1971

Headline from the September 14, 1971 issue of the Albany Times Union.

Headline reads: "37 Die in Attica Battle as Assault End Rebellion". 

Subheading reads: "Air, Ground Effort Takes Over 4 Hours'.