A prison riot is an act of concerted defiance or disorder by a group of prisoners against the prison administrators, prison officers, or other groups of prisoners.
Prison riots have not been the subject of many academic studies or research inquiries. The analyses that do exist tend to emphasize a connection between prison conditions (such as prison overcrowding) and riots, or discuss the dynamics of the modern prison riot. In addition, a large proportion of academic studies concentrate on specific cases of prison riots. Other recent research analyzes and examines prison strikes and reports of contention with inmate workers.
In the late 20th century, the analyses and conclusions presented to account for prison disturbances and riots began to shift and change based upon new studies and research. Initially, prison riots were considered irrational actions on the behalf of the prisoners. Nevertheless, there has been a shift in the form of explanation as external conditions like overcrowding are promoted by authorities as possible sources of causation.
List of notable prison riots
The list doesn't include Prisoner-of-war camps.
|1929, October 3||Colorado State Penitentiary, Cañon City, Colorado, United States||13 (5 inmates, 8 guards)||a majority of the physical plant was destroyed during the riot|||
|1946, May||Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary, Alcatraz Island, United States||5|
|1954||Missouri State Penitentiary, Jefferson City, Missouri, United States||4||29 injured, including 4 guards|
|Kingston Penitentiary riot||1954||Kingston Penitentiary, Kingston, Ontario, Canada||0||two-hour riot involving 900 inmates. Breakout attempt was foiled. Several buildings set on fire. $2 million in damages. 160 troops and a squad of police responded|
|Montana State Prison Riot||1959, April 16–18||Montana State Prison, Montana, United States||3|
|1963, July 12||Pulau Senang, Singapore||4 prison officers|||
|Attica Prison riot||1971||Attica Correctional Facility, Attica, United States||43|
|Kingston Penitentiary riot||1971||Kingston Penitentiary, Kingston, Ontario, Canada||2 inmates|
|1973, July 27||Oklahoma State Penitentiary, McAlester, United States||3 inmates||21 injured, 24 buildings were damaged and only 4 buildings were left usable. Over $25 million dollars in damages|||
|1971, August||Idaho State Penitentiary, Boise, Idaho, United States||1 inmate||1 building destroyed, in March 1973 another riot that left multiple buildings destroyed|
|San Quentin 1971 riot||1971, August 21||San Quentin State Prison, San Quentin, California, United States||6||riot between Black Guerrilla Family and Mexican Mafia|
|New Mexico State Penitentiary riot||1980, February 2–3||Penitentiary of New Mexico, Santa Fe County, New Mexico United States||33||over 200 injured|
|Welikada prison massacre||1983, July 25+27||Welikada Prison, Sri Lanka||56 (53 inmates and 3 officers)|
|Fremantle Prison riot||1988, January 14||Fremantle prison, Fremantle, Australia||0||prisoners created a fire and 5 officers were taken hostage. The fire caused $1.8 million in damage and unintentionally prevented the planned escape|
|1988, July 20||Centro Penitenciario, Michoacán, Mexico||10 inmates||13 injured|||
|Atlanta prison riots||1987, November||United States Penitentiary, Atlanta and Federal Detention Center, Oakdale, United States||1||250 injured|
|1989, April 2–3||Davao Penal Colony, Panabo, Philippines||0||16 hostages taken|
|1989 Davao hostage crisis||1989, August 13–15||Davao Metrodiscom, Davao City, Philippines||21 (5 hostages and 16 prisoners)|
|1990, March||Leopoldov Prison, Leopoldov, Slovakia||1 inmate||40 injured (11 prison officers, 29 inmates)|||
|1990 Strangeways Prison riot||1990, April 1–25||Strangeways Prison, Manchester, England||1 inmate||194 injured (147 prison officers, 47 inmates), 25-day prison riot|
|Carandiru massacre||1992, October 2||Carandiru Penitentiary, São Paulo, Brazil||111|
|1990, June||Robinson Correctional Institution, Enfield, Connecticut, United States||0||300 to 400 inmates set fire to the mess hall and gymnasium|||
|1993, Easter Sunday||Southern Ohio Correctional Facility, Scioto County, Ohio, United States||10 (9 inmates, 1 officer)|
|1994, July 12||Robinson Correctional Institution, Enfield, Connecticut, United States||2 inmates||37 injured (35 inmates, 2 correctional officers)|||
|Kalutara prison riots||1997, December 12||Kalutara, Sri Lanka||3|
|Bindunuwewa massacre||2000, October 24||Bindunuwewa, Sri Lanka||26|
|2001, May||Centro de Cumplimiento Peniteciario, Iquique, Chile||28+||150 injured|||
|2003, April 5||El Porvenir prison, La Ceiba, Honduras||69|||
|2004, May 16||El Porvenir prison, La Ceiba, Honduras||86 inmates|||
|2004, August 19||La Esperanza prison, San Salvador, El Salvador||31||24 injured|||
|2004, December 17||Pul-e-Charkhi prison, Kabul, Afghanistan||8 (4 inmates, 4 guards)|||
|2005, January||Camp Bucca, Umm Qasr, Iraq||4 inmates||6 injured|
|2005, March 15||Camp Bagong Diwa, Taguig, Philippines||23 (22 inmates, 1 officer)||almost all Abu Sayyaf members who rose up, including several leaders were killed|||
|2005, August||Pavón Prison / Granja Pino Canada / El Hoyon, Guatemala||35|||
|2006, January||San Quentin State Prison, San Quentin, California, United States||0||25+ injured|
|2006, February||North County Correctional Facility, Castaic, California, United States||1 inmate||100+ injured|
|2006, February 26||Pul-e-Charkhi prison, Kabul, Afghanistan||7+|||
|2007, January 7||Apanteos jail, near Santa Ana, El Salvador||21|||
|2007, April 24||New Castle Correctional Facility, New Castle, Indiana, United States||0||2 injured|||
|2007, December||Santa Ana prison, San Cristobal, Tachira, Venezuela||30 inmates|
|2008, March 28||Federal Correctional Institution, Three Rivers, Live Oak County, Texas, United States||1 inmate||22 injured|||
|2008, October 20||Cedes prison, Reynosa, Mexico||21+||8 injured|||
|2009 Ciudad Juárez prison riot||2009, March 4||CERESO state prison, Ciudad Juárez, Mexico||20||15 injured|
|2009, August 21||Northpoint Training Center, Boyle County, Kentucky, United States||0||60–80 inmates involved, 5 buildings burned down|
|2010, February 28||El Manzano (prison), Concepción, Chile||0|
|2010, May 5||Santa Ana prison, San Cristobal, Tachira, Venezuela||8||3 injured|||
|2011, October 15||Matamoros prison, Matamoros, Mexico||20||12 injured|||
|Altamira prison brawl||2012, January 4||Cereso de Altamira, Altamira, Mexico||31||13 injured|
|Apodaca prison riot||2012, February 19||Apodaca, Mexico||44||12 injured|
|2012, May 20||Adams County Correctional Facility, Natchez, Mississippi, United States||1 guard||7 injured|||
|Yare prison riot||2012, August 20||Yare Prison near Caracas, Venezuela||25||43 injured|
|2012 Welikada prison riot||2012, November 9–10||Welikada Prison, Sri Lanka||27||40 injured|
|2013 Uribana prison riot||2013, January 25||Uribana prison, Barquisimeto, Venezuela||61||120 injured|
|2013 Palmasola prison riot||2013, August 23||Palmasola, Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia||31||37 injured|
|Kaohsiung Prison riot||2015, February 11–12||Kaohsiung, Taiwan||6 (suicide)|
|Topo Chico prison riot||2016, February 10–11||Topo Chico prison, Monterrey, Mexico||52+||12 injured|
|2016, March 12||Holman Correctional Facility, Escambia County, Alabama, United States||0||2 injured|
|2016, July 19||Pavón Prison, Fraijanes, Guatemala||13|||
|2016 New Bilibid Prison riot||2016, September 28||New Bilibid Prison, Muntinlupa, Philippines||1||4 injured|
|Agricultural Penitentiary of Monte Cristo riot||2016, October 16||Agricultural Penitentiary of Monte Cristo, Boa Vista, Roraima, Brazil||25 inmates|
|2016, December 16||HM Prison Birmingham, Birmingham, England||0|||
|2016, December 20||California Correctional Center, Susanville, California, United States||0||4 injured|||
|2017, January 1||Anísio Jobim Penitentiary Complex, Amazonas, Brazil||60+|||
|2017, January 2||Prison Unit of Puraquequara, Manaus, Brazil||10|||
|2017, January 6||Agricultural Penitentiary of Monte Cristo, Boa Vista, Roraima, Brazil||37|||
|2017, January 8||Desembargador Raimundo Vidal Pessoa jail, Manaus, Brazil||4|||
|2017, January 9||Souza-Baranowski Correctional Center, Shirley, Massachusetts, United States||0|||
|2017, January 15||Natal State Prison, Natal, Brazil||27||9 injured|||
|2017, February 1||James T. Vaughn Correctional Center, New Castle County, Delaware, United States||1 officer|||
|2017, May 15||Buimo prison, Lae, Papua New Guinea||17|||
|2017, June 7||Camp Bagong Diwa, Taguig, Philippines||2||17 injured|||
|2017, June 29||El Dorado Correctional Facility, El Dorado, Kansas, United States||0|||
|2017, July 6||Las Cruces prison, Acapulco, Mexico||28|||
|2017, August 11||Cedes prison, Reynosa, Mexico||9||11 injured|||
|2017, October 11||Cadereyta prison, Nuevo León, Mexico||13|||
|2018, April 15||Lee Correctional Institution, Bishopville, South Carolina, United States||7|||
|2019, May 20||Vahdat prison, Vahdat, Tajikistan||32|||
|Acarigua prison riot||2019, May 24||police station cellblocks in Acarigua, Venezuela||29||19 injured|
|July 2019 Cameroon prison riots||2019, July 22+24||Kondengui Central Prison and Buea prison, Cameroon||Unknown||Unknown|
|2019 Altamira prison riot||2019, July 29||Centro de Recuperação Regional de Altamira prison, Altamira, Brazil||62|
|2019, August 14||Soledad State Prison, near Soledad, California, United States||0||8 injured|||
|2019, December 23||El Porvenir prison, La Ceiba, Honduras||18|
|Cieneguillas prison riots||2019, December 31||Cieneguillas Regional Center for Social Reintegration, Cieneguillas, Mexico||16 inmates||5 injured|
|Cieneguillas prison riots||2020, January 2||Cieneguillas Regional Center for Social Reintegration, Cieneguillas, Mexico||1 inmate||5 injured|
|2020, March 9||Pavia prison, Modena, Italy||6|||
|2020, March, 22||La Modelo prison, Bogotá, Colombia||23||90 injured|||
|2020, March 30||Sepidar Prison, Ahvaz, Iran||18|||
|2020, March 31||Sheiban Prison, Ahvaz, Iran||Unknown|||
|Guanare prison riot||2020, May 1||Los Llanos prison, Guanare, Venezuela||47||75 injured|||
|2020, August 1||Ware State Prison, Waycross, Georgia, USA||0||5 injured; 2 guards, 3 inmates|
- Norilsk uprising, May 1953 – strike
- Vorkuta uprising, July 1953 – 66 killed
- Kengir uprising, May 1954 – 37 killed (Official Soviet figure), 500–700 killed (Prisoner provided figure)
List of fictional prison riots
The following is a list of prison riots which have been depicted in various forms of media, including books, film, and television.
- In Battlefield 4, main characters Daniel Recker and Dimitri Mayakovsky (returning from Battlefield 3) instigate a mass prison breakout which evolves into a riot to escape PLA custody in the Kunlun mountains prison facility.
- In Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number, the 19th scene "Release" partly focuses on a large, violent prison riot in which the character Richter must fight his way out of. The riot is implied to be caused by the mysterious "Fifty Blessings" organization, which is the indirect cause of the game's events.
- In Toy Story 3, Buzz Lightyear is trapped in a prison cubby by his own prisoners, starting a prison riot.
- In season three of the FOX show 24, the main character, Jack Bauer, starts a prison riot in order to facilitate a prison escape.
- A riot occurred at Fox River during Prison Break's first season's two-part episode "Riots, Drills, and the Devil".
- Network Ten created a TV series called Prisoner (Prisoner Cell Block H in some countries), a show set in a prison in Melbourne, this had multiple riots through the series run.
- Multiple riots occurred in the television series Oz during its season six run.
- On St. Elsewhere, the show featured a prison riot, where Jack Morrison (David Morse) is raped by a prisoner.
- In The Simpsons episode "The Homer They Fall", a prison riot in progress is halted instantly when imprisoned champion boxer Drederick Tatum petulantly asks the inmates and guards to "Shut up." They apologize and begin extinguishing the flames and tidying up.
- Episode 285 of Blue Heelers, Stir Crazy
- The riot in the film Natural Born Killers.
- In the film Blood in Blood out, in San Quentin State Prison, after gangleader Montana was killed.
- In the movie Scum, by Alan Clarke the borstal inmates protest official indifference to a rape that led to suicide. It is not clear whether the perpetrators of the rape had participated. During the scene the inmates refuse to eat breakfast, and one by one they start chanting the eponymous "scum" and proceed to demolish the canteen, with the staff locking themselves into a secure area. The movie ends shortly after in the final scene with the governor claiming to mourn the death of the boy, whilst informing the inmates there is full loss of privileges "until the damage has been paid for".
- In the graphic novel and film Watchmen, after a burn victim of Rorschach dies, a prison riot breaks out in an attempt to kill him. Rorschach escapes with the aid of Nite-Owl and Silk Spectre.
- In the episode "A Game of Checkers" of the HBO television series Oz, a riot breaks out in Oswald Pen.'s Emerald City, with Muslim activist 'Kareem Saïd' (real name Goodson Truman) leading it (with the help of a gun given to him by a Muslim prison guard. It is eventually broken up with tear gas and a SWAT team.
- In Episode 6 of the 3rd season of the British TV show Ashes to Ashes, a prison riot occurs at Fenchurch East Prison.
- In the episode "Redemption" in season 6 of CBS television series CSI: NY, Sheldon Hawkes gets trapped in a prison riot while investigating the death of a prison guard.
- Critically awarded Spanish film, Celda 211 is largely centered on a riot in a Zamora jail.
- In the game Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Double Agent, Irving Lambert has two splinter cells stage a riot to help Sam Fisher escape with Jamie Washington in an effort for Sam to gain Jamie's trust and lead him to Jamie's terrorist organization, the JBA.
- In the game Call of Duty: Black Ops, main characters Reznov and Mason plan and escape during the Vorkuta uprising.
- 2010 film Dog Pound ends in a riot.
- In the novel The Four Stages of Cruelty, Corrections Officer Kali Williams is involved in the breaking up of a prison riot inside Ditmarsh Penitentiary.
- In the novel Green River Rising by Tim Willocks, set in a fictional east Texas state penitentiary, short stint inmate Ray Klein faces a riot on the very day he is to be released. The ensuing violence could threaten his release or his life (William Morrow, New York, 1994).
- A prison riot is the focus of Batman: Arkham Asylum, instigated by the Joker in Arkham Asylum.
- In both the beginning and the climax for Batman: Arkham Origins, Batman has to contend with two prison riots at Blackgate prison, both caused by the Joker (the first while disguised as Black Mask). In addition, one portion of the game had Batman quelling a prison riot at the GCPD headquarters that was instigated by corrupt police officers wanting to make Gordon look bad.
- The main focus of Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate was a prison riot that occurred at Blackgate prison.
- The fictional West Georgia Correctional Facility, seen in the third and fourth seasons of the AMC series The Walking Dead, saw a massive riot on the onset of the Zombie Apocalypse, as described by a surviving prisoner.
- At the end of Season 4 and most of Season 5 of Orange Is The New Black, a prison riot ensues after an inmate, Poussey, is killed by a correctional officer, Baxter Bayley, during a protest. The riot was started as a result of the Warden, Joe Caputo, not handling the situation as it should have been dealt with.
- In Season 3, Episode 15 of Avatar: The Last Airbender, Sokka, Zuko, and Hakoda start a prison riot to create a distraction so they can escape from The Boiling Rock prison.
- Bidna, H. (1975). Effects of increased security on prison violence. Journal of Criminal Justice, 3. 33–46.
- Ellis, D. (1984) Crowding and prison violence: Integration of research and theory. Criminal Justice and Behavior, 11 (3). 277–308.
- Gaes, G. (1994). Prison crowding research reexamined. The Prison Iran prison riot Journal, 74, (3). 329–363.
- Useem, B. (1985). Disorganization and the New Mexico prison riot of 1980. American Sociological Review, 50 (5). 677–688.
- Newbold, G. (1989). Punishment and Politics: The Maximum Security Prison in New Zealand. Auckland: Oxford University Press.
- Colvin, M. (1982). The 1980 New Mexico prison riot. Social Problems, 29 (5). 449–463.
- Useem, B. and Kimball, P. (1987). A theory of prison riots. Theory and Society, 16 (1). 87–122.
- Dinitz, S. (1991). Barbarism in the New Mexico state prison riot: The search for meaning a decade later. In Kelly, R. and MacNamara, D. (eds.). Perspectives on Deviance: Dominance, Degradation and Denigration. Cincinnati: Anderson Publishing Company.
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- "A Forgotten Past – 'Prison on Fire' at Pulau Senang". remembersingapore. 26 July 2013. Retrieved 18 May 2020.
- "The Story Behind This Oklahoma State Penitentiary Riot Is Truly Disturbing". onlyinyourstate. 12 August 2016. Retrieved 19 May 2020.
- "Inmates at a prison in central Mexico took guns..." upi. 21 July 1988. Retrieved 18 May 2020.
- "Vzpoura vězňů v Leopoldově před 20 lety: plamenomety a barikády ve věznici". iDNES.cz. 14 March 2010. Retrieved 18 June 2019.
- "Robinson Correctional Institution Profile and Valuable Information". golookup. Retrieved 18 May 2020.
- "At least 28 die in Chile prison riot fire". CNN. 21 May 2001. Retrieved 18 May 2020.
- "Honduras rioters back in prison". CNN. 7 April 2003. Retrieved 18 May 2020.
- "Honduran Prison Riot Leaves 86 Dead". CNN. 17 May 2004. Retrieved 18 May 2020.
- "El Salvador prison riot kills 31". news.bbc.co.uk. 19 August 2004. Retrieved 19 May 2020.
- "8 Are Killed as Inmates Try to Escape Kabul Prison". nytimes. 18 December 2004. Retrieved 19 May 2020.
- "Troops storm jail; 23 dead". philstar. 16 March 2005. Retrieved 19 May 2020.
- "The Worst Prison Riots of All Time". worldatlas. Retrieved 18 May 2020.
- "Inmates riot in Afghanistan prison". CNN. 26 February 2006. Retrieved 19 May 2020.
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- "Gang riot at Three Rivers prison leaves inmate dead". Chron. 29 March 2008. Retrieved 19 May 2020.
- "At least 21 dead in Mexico prison riot". chinadaily. 20 October 2008. Retrieved 21 May 2020.
- "Venezuela's Santa Ana Prison riot leaves eight inmates dead". news.com.au. 5 May 2010. Retrieved 19 May 2020.
- "Mexico prison fight kills 20 in Matamoros". BBC. 15 October 2011. Retrieved 21 May 2020.
- "Guard killed, several others injured in riot at Mississippi prison, officials say". CNN. 21 May 2012. Retrieved 19 May 2020.
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- "HMP Birmingham riot: 240 prisoners being moved after riot". BBC. 17 December 2017. Retrieved 19 May 2020.
- "Riot at California Correctional Center Under Investigation". cdcr.ca.gov. 22 December 2016. Retrieved 19 May 2020.
- "Dozens killed in prison riot in Brazil city of Manaus". aljazeera. 2 January 2017. Retrieved 19 May 2020.
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- "16 inmates charged with murder in Delaware prison riot". 6abc. 17 October 2017. Retrieved 19 May 2020.
- "Seventeen killed in mass prison break in Papua New Guinea". BBC. 15 May 2017. Retrieved 21 May 2020.
- "2 inmates dead, 17 wounded in riot during protest over power outage in Camp Bagong Diwa jail". interaksyon. 7 June 2017. Retrieved 19 May 2020.
- "Inmate uprising? State's account, emergency log differ on Kansas prison incident". kansascity.com. 13 July 2017. Retrieved 19 May 2020.
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