When the author tries to come up with some sort of compromise to the amnesty issue, some way for both sides to keep face, while defusing the escalating tensions, both sides basically laugh at him.
When the order is given to retake the yard, it is with full force. Wicker describes it succinctly and paints a hideous picture of violence. And in the end, the hostages did prove to be expendable.
Wicker witnessed the brutal reprisals afterwards as well. It seems as if every prisoner who was in the yard were beaten within inches of their lives. The guards actually dismissed these clubbing as “like a hazing.” In the end, nothing was accomplished by either side, other than amplifying the hatreds even further.
40 years after Attica, the prison system has expanded beyond anyone‘s wildest dreams. The “War on Drugs” has turned it into a growth industry, which is sickening. A Time To Die is an incredible book in that it so perfectly captures the thoughts and feelings of a self-described “liberal” in 1971, who had something of a near-spiritual awakening by the events he found himself involved in. The treatment of prisoners today seems completely irrelevant to the general public, as do the sheer numbers of incarcerated Americans.
A Time to Die is a very powerful historical account of what would seem to have been a defining moment in the American prison system. And although I have refrained from dwelling on it up to now, it is a powerful indictment of racism in the system, and society at large at the time as well. It also made me wonder if things have actually gotten worse in the 40 years since it was initially published.