Abstract and Keywords
This essay provides an overview of prison riots, the possible stages of a riot, and a historical account of the incidence of riots in the United States as well as cross-nationally since the early twentieth century (including finer discussions of the most serious riots and their implications). Theories of prison riots are presented and critiqued in terms of their applicability to the most serious riots in the past half-century. Within this discussion, attention is paid to how prison conditions might influence the chance of a prison riot. Actual riots develop in a dynamic relationship between rioting inmates and prison authorities and, as a result, pre-riot factors, such as inmate ideologies, can help explain the course of a riot but not completely. The essay concludes with a brief discussion of riot preparedness and effective guidelines for preventing the escalation of riots to the hostage stage.
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