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View Full Version : How Long Could A Prison Riot Last?



MatthewHJonesAuthor
10-25-2013, 07:04 PM
I'm doing so research for my Nano novel this year and it takes place in a Juvenille Detention Faculity. The boys have prison staff and guards as hostages and their median is around 15 years old.

The kids are being fed a drug that promotes paranoia and hostility, so assume the only viable way of reclaim the prison is through armed force.

So, how long would a riot like this last?

waylander
10-25-2013, 07:22 PM
How long do you want it to last?

Bufty
10-25-2013, 07:22 PM
No idea. Up to you - as long as you want it to.

Depends upon your society and the desire or necessity of letting the situation run or bringing it to a quick conclusion.

With hyped-up kids I would hazard a guess at not very long at all.

Who's feeding them the drugs?

Maryn
10-25-2013, 09:03 PM
The Attica riots lasted four days, during which some prisoners tried to negotiate with authorities for what they wanted while others committed mayhem and murder without guards to stop them.

One thing to establish is once the boys stop taking the drugs, how long the paranoia and hostility last.

What is their goal? Do they want out of there, or to control the place, or what?

You also need to consider how "bad" these kids are. Will they become thugs who engage in gang warfare, or reasonable people who can me mostly controlled by a few leaders among them?

Really, it's wide open. Do whatever best serves the story.

Do be aware than in many places, the large correctional facilities for youths are being closed down in favor of smaller home-like settings, which have better outcomes.

Maryn, who hikes near an abandoned facility which closed two years ago

MatthewHJonesAuthor
10-25-2013, 09:38 PM
To answer some of the questions that have araised, I'm imagining that the riot lasts around two weeks, but that seems to be too long now.

What I'm planning on, is an outside party is feeding the drugs to the inmates, engineering the riot, and contacting several kids inside. Next, they task those inmates to find a specific prisoner and subdue him. After which, that specific prisoner and those inmates will be broken out. Something that I hadn't given thought to was token negotiation, talking to the police as a distraction.

Nuwanda
10-25-2013, 10:22 PM
The Dirty Protests in the H-Blocks lasted 5 years, so two weeks doesn't seem that long in comparison!

Rockem Sockem Robot
10-26-2013, 12:59 AM
These days if a prison riot happened in a First World country, I imagine it would be resolved in a couple of days at the longest. In a Third World country it might take a bit longer.


The Attica riots lasted four days, during which some prisoners tried to negotiate with authorities for what they wanted while others committed mayhem and murder without guards to stop them.

That was in the '70s. The tactics and technology for storming hostile buildings are far superior today than they were in the '70s.


The Dirty Protests in the H-Blocks lasted 5 years, so two weeks doesn't seem that long in comparison!

Very different scenario. Those were hunger and shower strikes, not locking down and controlling an entire prison.

onesecondglance
10-26-2013, 01:23 AM
In 1990, Strangeways prison in Manchester experienced a riot lasting 24 days.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1990_Strangeways_Prison_riot

The prison has since been modernised to avoid a repeat of the scenario.

jclarkdawe
10-26-2013, 02:46 AM
Length of prison riots is a function of age of building, food and water supplies, and hostages. I doubt that teens are going to be organized enough to hold it together for very long. Without good leadership to negotiate with authorities and hold them off while getting in food and leaving the water turned on, a riot isn't going to last long. Food and water are very limiting factors to a riot.

The more modern a prison is, the harder it is to get a large scale riot going. It's too easy to lock down sections quickly. Maximum security is the hardest place to get a riot going, medium security is a lot easier.

The chances of escaping during a riot are somewhere between slim and none. The guards, reinforced by state and local police, will have a perimeter to make sure that doesn't happen. And the inmates are all going to try to go with any escape, so that the escape gets buried with people.

I'd suggest reading some books about prison riots and prisons if you want this to be credible. A couple of inmates aren't going to be wandering about trying to find a specific inmate.

Best of luck,

Jim Clark-Dawe

frimble3
10-26-2013, 08:03 AM
A building full of paranoid, hostile teenage boys, with limited food and no water? I wouldn't think it would last long, and if it did, it would make 'Lord of the Flies' look like a day at Disneyland.

Nuwanda
10-26-2013, 08:13 AM
These days if a prison riot happened in a First World country, I imagine it would be resolved in a couple of days at the longest. In a Third World country it might take a bit longer.



That was in the '70s. The tactics and technology for storming hostile buildings are far superior today than they were in the '70s.



Very different scenario. Those were hunger and shower strikes, not locking down and controlling an entire prison.

Too true! I was just giving a bit of scope of riot types for the OP.

In addition to reading a few books (as suggested above) Louie Theroux has a great documentary on modern American prisons. You can find it on YouTube, and the prisoners do go into some detail about what can start a riot and how long they can last.

jimmymc
10-26-2013, 04:53 PM
Not long if I'm the Warden.

Lil
10-26-2013, 05:19 PM
I know nothing authoritative about prison riots, but isn't a juvenile detention facility going to be a lot different from a maximum security prison? Seems to me you have a lot of leeway here to make it last as long as you want.