In September 1971, Attica Correctional Facility in New York witnessed one of the greatest prison riots of all time. In a five-day siege that started on September 9th, the prisoners revolted, and this rebellion kickstarted many discussions about the state of the prisons and how riots should be considered a serious issue. So, what exactly happened on this day more than five decades ago? This blog article will discuss 5 Interesting And Top Reasons With Solutions For Prison Riots.
Several months before the dreadful occurrence, prisoners were getting increasingly angry and frustrated about living conditions in prison. From being subjected to uncomfortable hygiene situations with inmates issued a roll of toilet paper for an entire month to food that was an eyesore to see, much less taste, it was one of the worst prisons at the time, and it didn't look like anything would change. Eventually, it reportedly graduated into regular beatings, dehumanizing punishment where inmates seen as rebels were kept in isolation and stripped naked, infringement on religious rights, and guards who dragged inmates away at night to face unimaginable horrors. Then, these rising tensions spilled over, and more than 1300 inmates decided that they had enough. They took over the prisons, set up camp, took the prison staff as hostages, and began negotiations with the government to seek better living conditions in prison.
Unfortunately, this story doesn't have a happy ending. Police officers eventually stormed the prison and killed several inmates and hostages. However, this began conversations about the state of prisons in the United States, and that conversation is still relevant today. This is not the only case of prison riots in history, and with their constant occurrence, it's important to look at why these riots happen in the first place.
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Some Causes and Solutions To Prison Riots:
1. Inadequate Prison Services
Prison riots mostly happen due to a lack of resources all over the world. The primary concerns with prison food services are quality and quantity. Food is one of the few weapons available to inmates for making a statement, and food service can impact the entire prison environment. Poor food is a major cause of prison riots. Balanced meals should be planned to meet the needs of the average population, with inmate age, gender, and activity levels considered. Many jails are hiring full-time cooks to help the food service department run more smoothly. Balanced food lists must also be provided to inmates on modified diets, though correctional staff must be aware of inmates attempting to exploit this system and ensure they are properly managed.
2. Poor Or No Responses To Complaints From Prisoners
Prisoners are like everyone else; they have the right to lodge complaints with prison authorities and independent bodies about any aspect of their treatment or conditions in detention. Effective complaint procedures ensure that detainees' rights are respected and serve as a critical safeguard against prison ill-treatment. These mechanisms will take various forms, but they must be accessible, confidential, impartial, and thorough and provide a prompt response with the option of appealing. They can benefit everyone in the prison system if they have the trust and confidence of both staff and detainees.
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3. Inmates' Racial And Gang Tensions
Often the causes of prison riots are seemingly simple issues like a fight between inmates and/or deprivation or loss of certain privileges, so when inmates' grievances are not addressed properly, prison riots usually break out. In these cases, they resort to rioting to make their voices heard.
4. Prison Overcrowding
Prison overcrowding happens when there is inadequate space for prisoners. This issue is not new and has been brewing for years. A good occurrence explaining prison overcrowding as a major aid to prison riots was during the United State's war on drugs. Some states faced issues in resolving prison overcrowding with limited money to expand. Although offenders are being released to reduce overcrowded prisons, it is challenging to release offenders if adequate rehabilitation prevents them from committing another crime. This frequently leads to recidivism among repeat offenders. Some crimes do not allow for parole, making it mandatory to keep the inmates in the correctional facility for an extended period, if not life. However, a great solution to prison overcrowding is for states to strictly follow federal policies such as mandatory minimum sentences, reducing prisoners' time behind bars. On the other hand, the Justice Department spends billions of dollars each year to ensure that state and local law enforcement adheres to the federal government's policies regarding U.S. prisons.
5. Inmates Do Not Have Access To Desired Programs Or Activities.
Prison facilities should engage inmates with a recreational program to maintain or improve their well-being and state of mind. Recreational activities should be distinct from prison work or vocational training and include sports or socio-cultural activities. Prison facilities should have the personnel and appropriate facilities and premises for organizing and conducting recreational activities. All prisoners, regardless of gender, sex, age or mental condition, should be able to participate in recreational activities; they can help to curtail riots in prison. Sports activities contribute to detainees' physical well-being. They also help detainees maintain or improve their mental health by reducing stress and tension. Team sports foster social interaction and should be encouraged.
Sports activities should be organized in addition to and outside of the periods set aside for daily outdoor exercise, and this can be accomplished by allowing regular access to a gym and basketball court. However, prison recreation should not be limited to sports activities.
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Because prison riots frequently occur all over the country, they are greatly anticipated. Therefore, a comprehensive study was found to help curtail the imminent causes of prison riots. The federal bureau of prisons examined and understood how prison riots had been resolved and considered strategies for more effectively preparing for, settling for, and recovering from them at the lowest cost to all parties. Prison riot prevention programs have proven to be a successful resolution of prison riots frequently stemming from the same misunderstandings and miscommunications encountered in everyday life.