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Attica Prison Uprising

The Prisoners: conducted a violent uprising at the prison for humane treatment and better conditions in the prison (they were not trying to negotiate their way out of prison). A really good (and relatively short) video to watch in order to understand the point of view of the prisoners can be found at the link below (the Attica Prison Uprising Forty Years Later). ·_____________________________________________________________ The Negotiators Commissioner Russell Oswald one of the negotiators and Commissioner of Corrections for the NY State Penal System. He had difficulties communicating clearly with the prisoners. The prisoners decided Oswald could not be trusted and ultimately refused to talk with him. htp:// Interview (not a video) with Russell Oswald (a bit long but very interesting and gives his point of view). William Kunstler was a well known civil rights lawyer and an inmate-chosen “observer”. He tried to negotiate a peaceful resolution. If you choose him as your “player” you should watch this film clip from the documentary Disturbing the Universe. This clip comes from a documentary by Kuntsler’s daughter who delves into her father’s motivations for helping the prisoners and some of the mistakes he made in the process. It’s quite interesting and very informative. ____________________________________________________________ The Authorities: (Governor Rockefeller and The NY State Police), violently took back control of the prison by storming it on the order of Governor Rockefeller, killing forty-three people (many prisoners but hostages as well) and injuring many. The prisoners were unarmed. 45 Years After Legendary Attica Prison Uprising, New Book Reveals State Role in Deadly Standoff.. Democracy Now: Host: Amy Goodman ________________________________________________________________ The Questions: Word Count 150-300 words per question (depending upon the complexity of the question). 25 points per question. Total worth of Midterm: 100 points. 1. From what you can tell from your research, what general ethical issues did the Attica Prison Uprising bring to the forefront for examination. Include as many ethical issues as you see operating during this event. 2. The issue of excessive use of force frequently comes up when there is a confrontation in which the authorities are involved. In your opinion, do you think the it was necessary for the authorities to storm the prison in the way that they did in order to quell the uprising and take back the prison? Do you think there were other alternatives which were not considered? If so why do you think they were not considered? 3. From what you know about Kantian ethics how does Kantian theory justify the actions your “player” took during the uprising? When you apply Kantian theory make sure you consider the categorical imperative, and the respect for persons/means to end argument. You can also discuss Kant’s idea of rationality as it relates to ethical theory and the actions of your player. Try to formulate and include the maxim that can justify the actions of your player. 4. From what you know about Utilitarian ethics, how does Utilitarian theory justify the actions your “player” took during the uprising? You don’t need to make a distinction between act and rule utilitarianism unless you think it applies. Remember that you are considering the overall happiness of a group of people (usually the majority or the most number of people) so you should think about everybody involved and affected by this event and then decide whose happiness (what group of people) we are considering. Whose state of happiness takes priority?

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