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Remembering Attica Correction

by Beryl P. Sanders, Community-Help Foundation Unlimited

I think I should first make a few points clear before I start. This article is to make a couple of corrections because this much needed newsletter gets into the hands of many readers. For fear that some will read the mentioned article and jump/react negatively, I personally felt the need to write the following.

I'm a full supporter of the "Prisoners' Legal News" and have been for several months now. I've promoted the paper and through my efforts have motivated a number of others to subscribe; so, I'm not writing this article in any way to cause a damper on continued support of a very much needed newsletter, especially one that goes to prisoners/families of prisoners, etc, in many states. The September 1991 publication, "Remembering Attica: Twenty Years Later," by Ed Mead especially caught my attention because my group and I are "Prisoner Rights Advocates" here in the state of Washington. We have, and are still helping prisoners throughout the state to deal with many prison concerns. A lot of the issues are valid (documentation available). The jail/prison abuses happen much too often. Many affiliate groups will agree on this. We've had protest "rallies," bringing more public awareness to the problems such as mistreatment, abuses, poor medical attention, lengthy, and dual sentencing. Intensive Management Units (lengthy punishment), and the Administrative Segregation (Ad-Seg) another form of isolated punishment immediately used when a "so-called" " reliable informant" is allowed to drop a "kite" (supposed information on another inmate) and the accused inmate is usually hurdled into Ad-Seg. for any amount of time, while the appointed administrators say they are conducting an investigation? (DOC investigating DOC - real serious investigating.) If the accused is found "not guilty," which isn't too often, custody status has been stripped and remains as such, and/or threat of "transfer' to another prison is awaiting him, and the madness goes on.

Prisoners' Legal News is a well distributed and an interesting one and because it goes into so many homes, prisons, etc., I would like to make mention of some recorded "documentation" of the "Attica tragedy" According to (1) The Bill of Rights by Herman Badillo, and (2) The McKay Commission Report, the outside observer team did not include the Rev. Jesse Jackson, nor did it produce indication that the Rev. was even asked. From reading past and present media, etc., Rev. Jackson has been described as nothing less than a very "unique humanitarian." I would surely believe that if he were in a position of instant decision making that took place in the "D" yard, when the order was made to "clear" the yard, the Rev. would have done so only with the understanding and promise that inmates would be returned to their cells unharmed. He (Jesse Jackson) is non-violent, but firm is his negotiations, and all that I've talked to respect him as the same. The "media representation had no idea that the prisoners would be slaughtered in the yard. The blame, without any doubt, should be on those in charge - the Warden, the Commission of Corrections, and as the article stated, Governor Rockefeller. Those orders had to come from the authorization from those in charge of maneuvers. As for the "outside observer team," they should be commended for their efforts of responding to come and try to help out. Most people, or shall we say the majority of the outsiders rarely move from in front of the TV set to help anyone, not alone prisoners who the media blows us to be always the guilty. Many others won't respond because of the bureaucratic hog-wash that one has to put up with in order to help.

We (the Washington Prisoner Advocate groups) constantly make the plea to administrators, officials, and of course the Indeterminate Sentence Review Board to release those "old guideline" prisoners and give them a chance to parole, go to work release, etc. The lengthy incarceration is another reason for the overcrowded prisons - prisoners sitting there that should be given a chance to parole and re-direct their lives.

Let's continue to support and show examples of Unity never forgetting the bravery of those fallen men at Attica and their families. "Attica - A True Tragedy."

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