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Alvin Bronstein, who wielded class-action lawsuits like a cudgel to protect America’s expanding prison population from abusive conditions, died on Saturday in Centreville, Md. He was 87.
It was the bloody 1971 riots over conditions at the Attica Correctional Facility in western New York that inspired him to challenge brutality and overcrowding in the correctional system. At the time, much of the nation was demanding harsher punishment and more prisons in response to rising crime, feeding the growth of what Mr. Bronstein identified early on as the “correctional-industrial complex.”
“Al was responsible for almost all of the major prison reform class-action lawsuits around the country during the ’70s, ’80s and early ’90s,” said Michele Deitch, a former colleague who teaches at the University of Texas at Austin School of Law.