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What causes a prison riot?

Past prison riots are effective real-life scenarios jails and prisons can use when training officers


AP Photo/Ed Andrieski, File

In this video, I discuss the major causes of prison riots by using the New Mexico State Penitentiary riot of 1980 as an example of warning signs that had been overlooked. The video describes numerous issues and signs that were ignored prior to this deadly riot.

In an effort to avoid future prison riots and educate ourselves on warning signs inmates give us, we must learn to understand our prison culture. Using examples of past prison riots is a good tool for any jail or prison to use as real-life scenarios when training officers.

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Gary York, author of “Corruption Behind Bars” and “Inside The Inner Circle,” served in the United States Army from 1978 to 1987 and was honorably discharged at the rank of Staff Sergeant from the Military Police Corps. U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Gary York completed the 7th Army Non-Commissioned Officers Leadership Academy with a 96.6% in the Train to Train method of instruction. Gary received the Army Commendation Medal and Soldier of the Quarter Award while serving. Gary was a Military Police shift supervisor for five years.

Gary then began a career with the Department of Corrections as a correctional officer. Gary was promoted to probation officer, senior probation officer and senior prison inspector where for the next 12 years he conducted criminal, civil and administrative investigations in many state prisons. Gary was also assigned to the Inspector General Drug Interdiction Team conducting searches of staff and visitors entering the prisons for contraband during weekend prison visitation. Gary also received the Correctional Probation Officer Leadership Award for the Region V, Tampa, Florida, Correctional Probation and he won the Outstanding Merit Award for leadership in the Region V Correctional Officer awards Tampa, Florida.

Sincere A. Harrison was charged with second-degree assault and first-degree promoting prison contraband
An apology should clearly project that you know right from wrong, nothing more
As three COs were subduing the inmate, he managed to escape their grasp and punched an officer in the eye
It is important that all staff know and follow their agency’s policies on security, inspections, contraband and escapes