World’s Wackiest Prison Riots

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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.

 

 

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DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

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In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily crazy—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America will move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

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