Attica Prison Report
One event, a form of collective violence (Lombardo 1999), which I hope does not get lost in the stream of remembrances is a prison riot which came to be known as ATTICA. Attica was an event that shaped my life and lead me where I am today. In this essay I explore the personal connections between Attica and myself and the understandings and meanings of Attica looking back over the past twenty-five years. Through this personal exploration I hope to provide a experiential context for the understanding of the cultural and hisorical roots of a specific conflict and the human lessons for resolving conflict in the future. In the autumn of 1971, ATTICA, a small Western New York town, added its name to list of places and events which needed to be remembered 25 years in the future. This small prison town is one that must be remembered in the long and tortured history of the American prison. But Attica clearly goes beyond the American prison. Attica seems to be one of those conflicts that was much easier to understand before it happened than after. Before Attica the politics of crime and punishment were central to national criminal justice debates. Before Attica racism, poverty and abuses of power were central concepts in understanding the prison, and the nation's urban and political violence. National commissions of the late 1960's saw that we were moving toward two societies: one black and one white (Kerner Commission, 1968: 1).
Jackson, G. (1970) Soledad Brother: The Prison Letters of George Jackson,NY, Bantam Books.
Kerner Commission (1968) Report of the National Commission on Civil Disorders.
Lombardo, L. (1999) Collective Violence in Prisons: Psychosocial Dimensions and Ritualistic Transformations, in Summers, C. and Makkusen, E. (editors) Collective Violence: Harmful Behavior in Groups and Governments, Lanham, MD, Rowman and
McKay Commission, New York State Special Commission on Attica (1972) Attica, NY, Basic Books.
McNamara, R.S. (1995) In Retrospect: The Tragedy and Lessons of Viet Nam, NY, Times Books.