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Reform Judaism Leaders Call Attica Event Symbol of Moral Failure

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The lay and rabbinic bodies of American Reform Judaism called today for an immediate inter-religious inquiry into the events at Attica State Prison and an all-out drive by America’s Catholics. Protestants and Jews to bring about meaningful prison reforms in our nation’s penal institutions. Ten hostages and 31 inmates were killed when authorities ordered the prison stormed yesterday to quell the four-day prison rebellion. The commission on Soviet Action of Reform Judaism, a joint body of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations and Central Conference of American Rabbis, in a statement said that they were in communication with other religious groups and clergymen and hoped that within the next few days a meeting could be held to form such an investigative body.

The Commission stated that such a group would work in cooperation with penologists, psychiatrists, lawyers and other experts in the techniques of social reform. The Commission expressed the hope that there would be no “further repression” against the inmates adding. “prisoners are not animals to be beaten back into their cages. If the revolt in Attica teaches us anything it is that what our society desperately needs is reform, not repressive patterns of behavior which emanate from our own anger and sense of frustration.”

The religious group called the Attica incident “a tragic symbol of the profound moral failure of our society” and demanded that “an objective and honest inquiry must be held regarding the role of Governor Nelson A. Rockefeller and alleged false statements by prison authorities and state officials.” The Reform Jewish organization believed that law enforcement officials once again reverted to the utilization of “power and violence” rather than choosing the more “patient avenue” of negotiations which “might have given us the opportunity to be on the side of life rather than on the of death.”

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