- Setting Up
Terminated on August 20, 1971
Our study was terminated on August 20, 1971. The next day, there was an alleged escape attempt at San Quentin. Prisoners in the Maximum Adjustment Center were released from their cells by Soledad brother George Jackson, who had smuggled a gun into the prison. Several guards and some informant prisoners were tortured and murdered during the attempt, but the escape was prevented after the leader was allegedly gunned down while trying to scale the 30-foot high prison walls.
Less than one month later, prisons made more news when a riot erupted at Attica Prison in New York. After weeks of negotiations with prisoners who held guards hostage while demanding basic human rights, New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller ordered the National Guard to take back the prison by full force. A great many guards and prisoners were killed and injured by that ill-advised decision.
One of the major demands of the prisoners at Attica was that they be treated like human beings. After observing our simulated prison for only six days, we could understand how prisons dehumanize people, turning them into objects and instilling in them feelings of hopelessness. And as for guards, we realized how ordinary people could be readily transformed from the good Dr. Jekyll to the evil Mr. Hyde.Previous Page Next Page