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New York Prisons Ban Two Pages From Attica Uprising Book

Creator Heather Ann Thompson filed a lawsuit this spring after her 2016 e book Blood in the Water: The 1971 Uprising at Attica Prison and Its Legacy was banned in New York state prisons. Now, state officers have issued a call: Solely the e book’s map of the Attica Correctional Facility can be censored. The map constitutes two pages that can be faraway from the paperback version, and a listing of people that died within the rebellion, printed on the again of a kind of pages, can be photocopied and added back into the book.

A spokesperson from the New York State Division of Corrections and Neighborhood Supervision (DOCCS) advised Hyperallergic that since Could, “paper bound copies of the book have been allowed in with the redaction of the two pages showing the map layout of the facility.”

Thompson’s March 31 lawsuit, filed with the New York Civil Liberties Union and the Civil Rights Clinic on the Benjamin N. Cardozo College of Legislation at Yeshiva College, said that incarcerated New Yorkers “stand to benefit the most” from the insights of her e book. She additionally argued that the structure protects her proper to share the e book and that she was not correctly notified of its censorship.

The Attica Uprising of 1971 (through American Mates Service Committee (AFSC))

Citing the DOCCS’s choice to censor the map as a substitute of the whole e book, the state legal professional normal’s workplace urged a Manhattan federal choose to dismiss Thompson’s lawsuit on July 27. The office stated that the ban could be lifted, solely the map could be eliminated, and that Thompson have to be notified if a correctional facility refused a request for the e book. Thompson’s legal professionals responded in a letter on August 1, reviewed by Hyperallergic, by which they argued that the lawsuit shouldn’t be dismissed as a result of there’s nothing stopping DOCCS’s “return to [their] old ways,” additionally saying that the division doesn’t make an “absolutely clear” dedication to not censor the e book once more sooner or later.

Blood within the Water gained a 2017 Pulitzer Prize in Historical past. Thompson spent over a decade researching the e book, which recounts the 1971 uprising at New York’s Attica Correctional Facility, when over 1,200 of the establishment’s 2,000 incarcerated folks gained management of the jail, took 42 hostages, and made 33 calls for that included fundamental tenets for high quality of life. After 4 days, the governor referred to as in state police. A Nationwide Guard helicopter sprayed teargas into the group assembled within the jail yard, then 550 state troopers (together with over 200 sheriff’s deputies and corrections officers) opened hearth from above and shot over 2,500 rounds of ammunition. They killed 39 people (together with 10 hostages). Some have been shot at close range. The state did not prosecute anybody for these deaths and attempted to cover up the state-sanctioned bloodbath.

“There’s been a deep curiosity about what happened in Attica. There’s been a real, honest, genuine desire to know what happened all those years ago,” Thompson told the New York Times.

The DOCCS bans a variety of books — from works depicting gang graffiti to books describing alcohol brewing methods. The division additionally has an in depth listing of standards that might qualify a e book for censorship based mostly on its capacity to assist incarcerated folks in escape. A few of these standards embody descriptions of lock selecting, survival methods, and “detailed maps or topographic maps which could aid an incarcerated person in escape.”

In April, Hyperallergic spoke with James Tager, a analysis director at PEN America, who defined that e book bans in prisons are sometimes on the discretion of particular person officers at correctional amenities. Tager added: “It’s important that prison officials understand that there are people who reject the idea that their books are being censored, that there are authors who will fight for their rights and that there will be consequences for censorships.”

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