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New York prisons just lifted a ban on this book, but they are still cutting out some of its pages. Here’s why

SHARE New York prisons just lifted a ban on this book, but they are still cutting out some of its pages. Here’s why
Inmates at Attica State Prison in Attica, N.Y., raise their hands in clenched fists in a show of unity, Sept. 1971, during the Attica uprising, which took the lives of 43 people.

Inmates at Attica State Prison in Attica, N.Y., raise their hands in clenched fists in a show of unity, Sept. 1971, during the Attica uprising, which took the lives of 43 people.

Associated Press

New York prison officials lifted a ban on a book about the 1971 Attica uprising following a lawsuit by the book’s author.

Since its publication in 2016, “Blood in the Water: The Attica Uprising of 1971” by historian Heather Ann Thompson has been banned in New York state prisons, including the Attica Correctional Facility, The Associated Press reported.

The Pulitzer Prize-winning book describes a 1971 uprising by nearly 1,300 prisoners in Attica who took over a part of the prison in protest after years of mistreatment and harsh conditions. The uprising ended with 43 dead, 32 of whom were inmates, according to the Marshall Project.

Thompson sued the state prisons in March of this year, arguing that the ban violated the First Amendment.

“People have a right to read, and people have a right to history,” Thompson said at the time, per AP. “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.”

Though the ban was lifted, state officials will still censor a part of the book.

Two pages with a map of the Attica Correctional Facility will be removed for “security reasons,” The New York Times reported. Prisoners who order a copy of the book will receive a “redacted paperback version,” the state lawyers wrote.

On the back of one of the removed pages is a list of people who died during the 1971 rising. The list will be photocopied and added back into the book, state lawyers said, according to The New York Times.