Mock Prison Riot prepares corrections staff for potential incidents.

Author:Barone, Cynthia R.
Position:NIJ Update

Authors' Note: Findings and conclusions reported in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official position or policies of the U.S Department of Justice.

Prison personnel must be ready to respond to all types of emergency situations, including a violent prisoner uprising. Fortunately, most correctional staff have never actually been involved in such an incident. So how can they be prepared should such an event suddenly occur at their facility? One way is by practicing at a realistically staged event designed to present, as closely as possible, the kinds of issues personnel may encounter during an actual prison riot.

The Mock Prison Riot has been staged annually, in April or May, since 1997 on the grounds of the former West Virginia Penitentiary in Moundsville. The event is a program of the National Institute of Justice (NIJ), Office of Science and Technology, and an initiative of the West Virginia High Technology Consortium (WVHTC) Foundation. The mock riot is like no other law enforcement training in the world, facilitating the marriage of technologies and end-users under the most realistic conditions possible.

The first mock riot, in 1997, lasted one day. Today, the event is a four day, comprehensive law enforcement and corrections tactical and technology experience, that includes 44,000 square feet of exhibit space; training scenarios; technology demonstrations; technology assessments and evaluations; certification workshops; a skills competition; and multiple opportunities for feedback, networking and camaraderie.

In 1997, there were four law enforcement and corrections technologies showcased, and 70 people attended; in 2007, 1,687 participants from 36 states participated and 84 technologies were on display. In 2008, 39 states were represented as well as eight countries, including the Bahamas, Canada, EI Salvador, Ireland, Norway, Singapore, the United Kingdom and Venezuela. Other countries that have participated include Austria, Brazil, Hong Kong and Israel. In 2007-2008, teams from Canada and Singapore executed training scenarios.

The core components of the Mock Prison Riot are:

* The technology showcase, where exhibitors come from all across the country and around the world to display the newest cutting-edge law enforcement and corrections (LEC) technologies. Special emphasis is placed on technology areas designated by NIJ as high priority. Exhibitors say the feedback they receive from end-users...

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