PDA

View Full Version : Prison guards breaking up a fight



TMarie
06-05-2015, 11:50 PM
I have a scene in my novel where three prisoners get into a physical fight in the yard. How many guards would likely respond, and what might they do? Would an alarm be sounded? As I have it written now, the guards pull the prisoners apart. One of the prisoners, still trying to fight, gets hit with a guard's club, then shoved to the ground. Would a guard put a knee to his back and possibly zip tie the prisoner's wrists behind his back before hauling him away?

BTW, this takes place in a US prison in the Midwest, but I haven't specified a particular state.

Any details would be greatly appreciated!

jclarkdawe
06-06-2015, 12:48 AM
As many guards as possible would respond. They'd do whatever they needed to do stop the fight and make sure it doesn't turn into a riot. The guards would be cautious of shivs.

An alarm would sound. Depending upon the prison policy, all inmates not in the area of the fight would be going to their cells. All interior doors would be kept locked and no movement from one unit to another would be allowed. Inmates in the area of the fight would sit or lay down or assume other positions to declare their noncombatant status.

Inmates involved in the fight would be cuffed and as soon as possible, hauled off to either the hole or the infirmary. Who started what and why doesn't matter at this point. Everybody goes into the hole until the guards can sort it out.

The aggressiveness of the guards is directly related to what part of the prison the incident happens in. But no matter what part of the prison this occurs in, the response will be much more aggressive than a bar fight. The guards will always remember that the fight can be a diversion, or the start of a riot.

Best of luck,

Jim Clark-Dawe

TMarie
06-06-2015, 12:59 AM
Wonderfully helpful, Jim, thank you so much!!! :)

T Robinson
06-06-2015, 07:07 AM
Remember to check your terminology, depending on the era. For quite some time, they are usually "correctional officers." The convicts/inmates/incarcerated person (I hate political correctness, but you have to be aware of it) call it the "hole," but it is administrative segregation in the official reports.

The ratio is about 1 to 200, so there are not that many people available to respond, unless it is shift change. When it is resolved, all will stay locked down until a count is done and verified. Fights that are seen are usually set as diversions. True fights happen when no one is looking. Try to find a book called "Games Criminal Play," and it will give you more insight.

If you have specific questions, ask, I did spend eight years working in a state prison.

lance.schukies
06-06-2015, 07:40 AM
I would not expect guards to go in to break up a fight, it it was in the exercise yard that it monitored by guards in towers armed with guns.

if you want a guard involved in the fight it would be inside where the fight could start in front the guard. like going from cell to work area.

TMarie
06-06-2015, 11:20 PM
Remember to check your terminology, depending on the era. For quite some time, they are usually "correctional officers." The convicts/inmates/incarcerated person (I hate political correctness, but you have to be aware of it) call it the "hole," but it is administrative segregation in the official reports.

The ratio is about 1 to 200, so there are not that many people available to respond, unless it is shift change. When it is resolved, all will stay locked down until a count is done and verified. Fights that are seen are usually set as diversions. True fights happen when no one is looking. Try to find a book called "Games Criminal Play," and it will give you more insight.

If you have specific questions, ask, I did spend eight years working in a state prison.

Great info, thanks for your expertise! I appreciate it!

BarII
06-08-2015, 06:17 AM
Not long ago, and maybe in some prisons today, sometimes the guards would wait until the fight's over in hope that the fighters would have it settled and not fight again. In a TV documentary, I saw guards use tear gas to break up a one on one fight between woman prisoners. So, it depends.

WeaselFire
06-08-2015, 05:57 PM
State prison, Federal prison. Minimum, Medium or Maximum Security, Juvenile or Adult, Women or Men....

All will affect the response of the guards. What do you need for your story? Maybe we can help you figure out what detyails you need to add to make it plausible.

Jeff

TMarie
06-08-2015, 08:33 PM
Right, so much depends on other details. Okay, so it's a prison for adults, men. My SC is serving a one-year-and-a-day sentence for second degree accessory to assault. (Although I'll also need to verify that I have that charge right. My SC was “forced” by his brother to film my MC get branded on her palm with a hot fire iron.)


So what do you think? Would my SC likely be in a state or federal prison? Medium or maximum? I'm terrible at figuring this all out--I'm so grateful for all the help! Fortunately, this is a fairly short scene, and the rest of my novel does not take place in prison.


As I have it now, the COs come in to break up the fight, but if that's not realistic, I could go with the tear gas or something else. I really do want to make it as plausible as possible.

Many, many thanks for all the input!

T Robinson
06-09-2015, 03:15 AM
It is not a federal charge, so that is out. With such a short sentence, he might not ever make it out of county jail.

jclarkdawe
06-09-2015, 05:58 AM
As T Robinson says, state charge.

If he's convicted of assault, he was not legally coerced by his brother. As far as the law is concerned, he did this willingly. So his 'defense' of being forced to do it won't play well with the authorities.

Most states use a minimum/maximum type sentencing structure. This can be done by good time credits. Most likely he would be sentenced to something like a 1 - 3 sentence. This means he becomes eligible for parole after 1 year, and if he never makes parole, gets thrown out of prison after 3 years.

Assuming he goes to prison at conviction (rather than sitting around in jail earning credit for time served) for a 1 to 3 year sentence, he will spend one to two months in classification. Normally he'll then go into medium custody, and be there for six to nine months. At that point, he'll move into minimum security and then be paroled after one year.

Here's your problem with this scenario. If he gets into a fight, even in self-defense, it's going to delay his parole. Your timeline doesn't have any room for any major disciplinary incident.

I think you're going to do better with a county lockup. He'd be in medium security pre-trial and could reasonably stay in medium for the total sentence. A lot of jails offer a day off your sentence for each two days you stay out of trouble. But no matter what he does in jail, unless he gets a new charge, he'll be out in one year.

Best of luck,

Jim Clark-Dawe

TMarie
06-09-2015, 06:11 AM
Thank you, all. Lots to think about and figure out...

TMarie
06-10-2015, 05:13 AM
Here's your problem with this scenario. If he gets into a fight, even in self-defense, it's going to delay his parole. Your timeline doesn't have any room for any major disciplinary incident.


Out of curiosity, if I decide to change my original timeline, how long of a delay might this cause?

jclarkdawe
06-10-2015, 06:53 AM
It's hard to say how long the delay will be. If he's determined to be completely not at fault, it might be as little as a month or so. It takes a few days for the prison to investigate what happen and hold the appropriate hearings Then he has to be moved back into medium security.

However, unless your character loses the fight completely, and has the crap beaten out of him (which puts him in the infirmary), he's probably going to be viewed as having some level of fault, and to have broken a couple of rules. That means he'll do time in segregation, then moved into the close custody unit (in between medium security and maximum security). He then has to work his way out of there until medium security to get back to where he'd been. This process takes time, and four months would be on the low side.

To get out on parole, you need to have avoided major infractions and not have too many minor infractions on your record.

Best of luck,

Jim Clark-Dawe

TMarie
06-10-2015, 10:47 PM
Thanks for the details, Jim, good stuff to know!

T Robinson
06-10-2015, 11:29 PM
You said your sentence was a year and a day. Note what Jim said about parole. If you don't change to probably a three year sentence, parole is a non-issue.

SiennaBloom
06-10-2015, 11:38 PM
Out of curiosity, if I decide to change my original timeline, how long of a delay might this cause?

The character would be seen by the parole board (or deliberately not seen) about 6 months before their minimum sentence regardless of when the fight occurred. Most of the time, if it is within two years of the minimum sentence, the Parole Board would give a six month "flop" (extension to the minimum) for a simple fight in which there is no significant injuries caused to either other prisoners or to staff. However, if there were injuries that were significant, I have seen a year flop instead of 6 months.

However, this could be helpful to you... if the fight was more than two years from the minimum sentence, the fight might not delay parole at all depending upon why the character is in prison. (For example, he's in prison for a nonviolent crime) It also might not cause a delay if it is more than two years from his minimum and he has no other fights on his record.

I write reports to the Parole Board for the state that I am employed to work for. That is where my information is coming from. Other States and other Parole Boards may have different standards or practices.

SiennaBloom
06-10-2015, 11:40 PM
You said your sentence was a year and a day. Note what Jim said about parole. If you don't change to probably a three year sentence, parole is a non-issue.

Opps, I missed this. Parole is only when the prisoner has a minimum sentence and has not hit the maximum. Typically parole is no longer than 2 or 3 years but there are some states with longer parole times. When the maximum sentence is met, even if on parole or in prison, the character would no longer be under supervision or locked up for that crime.