World’s Wackiest Prison Riots

Photo used under a Creative Commons license by flickr user <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/fooey/">fooey</a>

Fight disinformation: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter and follow the news that matters.


When most people think of prison riots, revolts like Attica or MacAlester spring to mind—violent uprisings sparked by racial tension, overcrowding, or abysmal conditions. But as I recently learned while fact-checking a story about a Mock Prison Riot (yes, such a thing exists), not all prison rebellions have such, ahem, sober causes.

Here’s a brief list of some of the more kooky revolts to rock a lockup:

Cause of mutiny: Booze

The HMP Ashwell prison in England has an inmate sobriety problem. In 2003, four inmates smashed computers and caused more than $15,000 in damage after one of them was admonished for being drunk in their cell. Six years later, an inebriated prisoner led a violent protest that included stealing, arson, and looting.

Outcome: HMP learned a valuable lesson: Alcohol and angry inmates are not a good mix.

Cause of mutiny: Pancakes too small

At the Kamloops Regional Correctional Centre in Canada, inmates started a fire and destroyed property, causing $80,000 in damage. Why? As the court document put it, they were ticked about the “size and number of pancakes” served at brunch.

Outcome: Offenders charged with disorderly conduct. No word on whether pancake size or quantity changed.

Cause of mutiny: Improper toilet use 

Racial tension came to a head at the Pitchess Detention Center in Los Angeles when, according to the LA Times, an inmate “breached bathroom etiquette” and caused a gang fight. Perhaps for our benefit, the Times provided no further details about said breach.

Outcome: Some of the 102 inmates involved suffered knife injuries. Said the sheriff deputy: “When you’re in jail, little things mean a lot, I guess.”

Cause of mutiny: Prisoners want to move to higher security prison

At a penitentiary in Montreal, two prisoners demanded a transfer from their medium security prison to a maximum security one. When that didn’t work, they held a guard hostage.

Outcome: Success! Prisoners get their wish, are transferred to max-security jail.

 

 

A BETTER WAY TO DO THIS?

We have an ambitious $350,000 online fundraising goal this month and we can't afford to come up short. But when a reader recently asked how being a nonprofit makes Mother Jones different from other news organizations, we realized we needed to lay this out better: Because "in absolutely every way" is essentially the answer.

So we tried to explain why your year-end donations are so essential, and we'd like your help refining our pitch about what make Mother Jones valuable and worth reading to you.

We'd also like your support of our journalism with a year-end donation if you can right now—all online gifts will be doubled until we hit our $350,000 goal thanks to an incredibly generous donor's matching gift pledge.

payment methods

A BETTER WAY TO DO THIS?

We have an ambitious $350,000 online fundraising goal this month and we can't afford to come up short. But when a reader recently asked how being a nonprofit makes Mother Jones different from other news organizations, we realized we needed to lay this out better: Because "in absolutely every way" is essentially the answer.

So we tried to explain why your year-end donations are so essential, and we'd like your help refining our pitch about what make Mother Jones valuable and worth reading to you.

We'd also like your support of our journalism with a year-end donation if you can right now—all online gifts will be doubled until we hit our $350,000 goal thanks to an incredibly generous donor's matching gift pledge.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate