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Resolution of Prison Riots: Strategies and Policies

NCJ Number
Date Published
227 pages

Eight prison riots were studied to determine the conditions that precipitate prison disturbances, the course of events during the disturbances, the aftermath and recovery by corrections agencies, and implications for preventing and resolving large-scale disorder.


The riots studied included protracted riots that lasted more than a day and riots that lasted a day or less. Information was collected by means of interviews of correctional personnel who had been involved in the resolution of the disturbance, interviews of persons who were taken hostage, observations of the areas in which the disturbance occurred, a review of documents and reports, and viewing of videotapes of the disturbance and its aftermath. The documents included statements by inmates who were in the facilities during the riots. Findings indicated that vigilance by correctional staff may thwart a planned rebellion, a rapid mobilization of force may prevent an incident involving a few inmates in a small area from becoming a full-scale disturbance, and negotiation or the use of force in appropriate circumstances may speed the resolution with fewer casualties. Findings also indicated potentially effective strategies for command, resolution, and media management during the riot and immediate and long-term actions to take after the riot. Figures, photograph, chapter reference notes, and index

Date Published: January 1, 1996