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Resolution of Prison Riots, Research in Brief

NCJ Number
Date Published
September 1995
19 pages
Publication Series
Strategies and procedures used in eight State and Federal prisons to deal with prison riots are examined, based on information from prison administrators and from reports, interviews, and historical data from the disturbances in these institutions.
The riots took place between 1986 and 1991. The analysis revealed that the safety of correctional personnel, inmates, and residents of the area in which the facility is located, plus the financial cost of prison riots, makes their prevention and containment a critical issue. Factors that must be addressed include such criminal justice issues as corrections management, how command is divided during riots, race relations in prisons, how prisons are constructed and renovated, how prisons are staffed, and how staff are used and augmented during riots. Results indicated that proactive planning and preparation along with reactive problem-solving is the most effective approach to prison riot resolution. A prison's riot plan should include a command structure with well-defined lines of authority; clear guidelines on the use of force, including staff and weapons assignments; interagency cooperation terms that specify the roles of units such as the State police and the local fire department; and training that addresses both tactics and mental readiness. Strategies to prevent and deal with riots must address factors such as maintaining supervision of an experienced staff who follow sound security practices; ensuring the security of the building and equipment; and selection of the most appropriate means of resolving a riot, including use of force, negotiations, or a combination of tactics. Charts, reference notes, and list of NIJ publications in corrections

Date Published: September 1, 1995