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New York prisoners can now read book about Attica uprising, though map still censored

Aug 08, 2022 1:23 pm

The Poughkeepsie Journal reports that New York will no longer ban state prison inmates from reading a book about the 1971 Attica Correctional Facility uprising after the author filed a First Amendment lawsuit. But state officials said they will continue to censor a two-page map of Attica from the Pulitzer-prize winning book because of security reasons. Author Heather Ann Thompson, a historian and professor at the University of Michigan, sued New York’s prisons in March because her 2016 book “Blood in the Water: The Attica Uprising of 1971” was not allowed in prisons. The book is about a prison uprising to protest years of mistreatment, where 39 inmates and staff died. No law enforcement officers were put on trial for their role in the massacre, and inmates accused of crimes were granted pardons and amnesty. “People have a right to read, and people have a right to history,” Thompson said in a statement when the lawsuit was filed. “We also have a right to have our books read. It’s a shame we live in a country where we censor people and ideas.” The state attorney general’s office announced the policy change in a letter to a U.S. judge in Manhattan, but said only paperback copies of the book where the map can be removed will be allowed in prisons. And now if a correctional facility rejects a request for an order of the book, prison officials must send tell Thompson. Read more about this story in the Poughkeepsie Journal.