The Prison Guard’s Daughter: My Journey Through the Ashes of Attica

Diversion. Sept. 2021. 288p. ISBN 9781635768046. pap. $17.99. CRIME
On the 50th anniversary of one of the deadliest prison riots in the United States, this book highlights the personal quest by Miller (cofounder, Forgotten Victims of Attica) for answers about her father’s death in the 1971 uprising at New York State’s Attica Correctional Facility. Forty-three men were killed over the course of five-day riot: 10 correctional officers and 33 men imprisoned at Attica. Miller’s father, William “Billy” Quinn, died when the author was only five years old; he was the riot’s first casualty and the only correctional officer to be killed by the prisoners—the majority of the men who died (39 out of the 43, including 9 correctional officers) were killed by law enforcement gunfire. For more than 30 years, Miller searched sought answers about her father’s death—who killed him? how did he die?—a journey that she recounts in this compelling, well-written book. Along the way, she befriended several of the imprisoned men who had participated in the Attica uprising and who helped her piece together information regarding Quinn’s death. Among the book’s conclusions is that the prison and state officials lied about the events of the uprising. It finds evidence that when law enforcement retook Attica on the riot’s final, bloody day (when 39 men were killed in a hail of police bullets), they never attempted to rescue the correctional officers being held hostage inside the prison.
VERDICT Miller’s compassionate book (coauthored by investigative journalist Craig, who has reported on Attica for the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle) discusses the state’s deception around the Attica tragedy, grapples with forgiveness and reparations, and calls for prison reform.
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