No D&D in… Prison?

Thursday, 27. January 2011

Alcaztraz (Flicker, Tim Pearce, Los Gatos)

This is an interesting one related to D&D. Hat tip to Geeks are Sexy for pointing it out. Well, “weird” may be more accurate but it’s still worth pointing out. The seventh circuit court of United States Court of Appeals has ruled that

“After concluding that the popular role-playing game Dungeons and Dragons (“D&D”) represented a threat to prison security, officials at Wisconsin’s Waupun Correctional Institution took action to eradicate D&D within the prison’s wall.”

Go ahead, read the link at Geeks if you don’t want to read the entire brief, then come back here and comment!

I have to admit, I have mixed feelings over this. For starters, I am of the belief that hard time in prisons is supposed to be well.. hard time. This is further complicated by the fact in addition to punishment (the entire purpose of going there), it would be nice if the system had some rehabilitative function as well (Which.. is arguably not.) You can further complicate this by the fact that a lot of people are imprisoned for some really inane bullshit. The average American commits an average of 3 felonies a day due to our byzantine and un-understandable to the average person structure of laws.

The 2 obvious holes I see here are..

For starters, the argument that the Dungeon Master “gives directions (like a prison gang leader)” to players is a big stretch. The DM (GM, Storyteller as I prefer to call them) is there to describe what is happening, as well as acting as an arbiter of the rules. I guess I could imagine seeing them using D&D as a talk around to give directions as to who needs a beating and who needs to be knocked off, but it’s not like you couldn’t figure that out real fast.

Secondly, even if the game did lead to some prison gang related activity.. so what? It’s not like the prisons curb that crap anyways, so they’ll just find another way around it to organize. If that’s the case that it happens, -then- you ban it locally. Otherwise it’s just another waste of time and money.

Thirdly, if you’re engrossed in D&D it’s probably pretty hard by definition to engage in gang activity. Role playing is really some entertainment and escapism (Which is prime time for certain at prisons) so I could imagine why it would be popular based off of that alone. Hell, maybe it would help with some rehabilitation as well..

Whats your thoughts?

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12 Responses to “No D&D in… Prison?”



  1. The Red DM Says:

    I’ve read about this sort of thing before, and it blows my mind. If anything they should be encouraging inmates to play D&D for the following reasons:

    1.While playing D&D inmates are unlikely to be doing anything that makes the guards’ lives more difficult.

    2.In addition to being easy maintenance when actually gaming, D&D indirectly encourages players to spend a lot of time reading – another activity that is easy on guards.

    3.Role playing can offer an outlet for negative emotions that convicted criminals may be in need of.

    4.Through positive social interaction rpgs may be somewhat rehabilitative.



  2. Grey Says:

    Maybe if they ban thieves and rogues it’ll be cool?



  3. Don Says:

    Humorously, they cited that it promotes cooperative activity as one of the reasons for the ban.

    Let’s see…

    My wife and cooperatively raise our child…

    My coworkers cooperatively accomplish the business’s objectives…

    My martial arts school cooperatively teaches jujutsu and iaido…

    My school’s lab assignments teach cooperative learning…

    Yeah, this is dangerous stuff! Prisoners might learn to trust one another, work together to better themselves, and learn to rely on their fellow man instead of preying upon them.

    We wouldn’t want that now would we…



  4. Don Says:

    The funniest comment I read was “They had to ban it because they couldn’t find enough Lawful Good players”



  5. Grey Says:

    Yes Don – but the real question is can you prove those activites won’t lead to gang activity in the future, even though it hasn’t in the past? Is that not some bullshit standard of proof? Working by that you can rightly ban everything. Eating for instance. Required to stay alive, yet it might cause gang activity in the future!



  6. faustusnotes Says:

    Don’t most states in the US strip away your right to vote? It seems like if you’re going to stoop to that level of barbarity, stripping people of the right to associate in groups is the natural next step.



  7. Grey Says:

    The vast majority do. Of course, it depends what election it is and who you are voting for. Being a convict is a small issue to prevent voting when death itself isn’t powerful enough at times!



  8. faustusnotes Says:

    I don’t understand that last sentence, Grey.

    Anyway, I find the thought of being a dungeon master in an actual dungeon, where you have no power at all, quite amusing.



  9. Grey Says:

    All sorts of prohibited voters have been known to show up at various elections. I would consider being “dead” a more powerful and lasting condition than being a convict, however the dead still manage to find their way to the polls in US elections. On numerous occasions to boot :D



  10. faustusnotes Says:

    No Grey, all sorts of prohibited voters are known to be on the electoral rolls, primarily people who are registered at the wrong address. They have to vote illegally before they can count for more, and there’s no evidence that the dead are voting in any significant numbers except in the lurid fantasies of the Glen Becks of this earth.

    That it’s a fantasy on the Human Events website should tell you all you need to know about the veracity of that rumour…



  11. Grey Says:

    I never claimed that was a major problem, just that it actually happened (and continues to.) Pretty much every single newspaper in the states has stories of this going back through their archives on both sides of the politcal isle, so it’s not purely a tinfoil hat Beck theory.



  12. runjikol Says:

    As if prison isn’t bad enough.

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