The Oklahoma State Penitentiary (OSP) opened in 1908 with only 50 inmates in a makeshift facility on over 1,500 acres in McAlester, Oklahoma. A permanent facility was built in 1911 and began housing inmates in large numbers. The facility could house eleven-hundred inmates and that number easily was surpassed by 1920. Fast forward to 1973, to an overcrowded OSP that was overfilled with twenty-two hundred inmates. The prison was obviously overcrowded and in desperate need of reform. The prisoners were very discontent with the conditions and, along with other reasons, grew weary of any hope for change. What happened next was forewarned to government officials by advocacy groups due to the dire situation at the prison.

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Watch this rare footage of the 1973 McAlester prison riot:

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