Perilous: A Chronicle of Prisoner Unrest Across the US and Canada
Perilous is a project supported by a network of people—including you—who seek to gather and track information on prison uprisings, riots, protests, strikes, and other disturbances within public and private jails, prisons, and detention centers in the US and Canada. In this process, we rely on crowdsourced information in addition to local news outlets and our own reporting. Concerted rebellion by prisoners has occurred throughout the history of incarceration, including a powerful uptick during the Prisoner Rights Movement of the 1960s and 70s in the US. Our timeline begins with the December 2010 Georgia prison work stoppage and therefore excludes much of this history. Since 2010, we have seen a steadily rising wave of prison rebellion which we believe constitutes a nation-wide social movement (similar to the Occupy movement or the Black Lives Matter movement). Our goal is to track this movement comprehensively. Specifically, we track any disturbance within a jail, prison, or detention center since December of 2010 in the US or Canada that occurs as a result of the agency of multiple incarcerated people acting in concert in response to their confinement or the conditions thereof. It is important to note that the information provided here represents only a fraction of the actual number of instances of prison rebellion. We consider this project a work in progress and we welcome efforts to help expand our database. If you have information to share, please contact us at info [at] perilouschronicle [dot] com or via our contact page.
Why is this necessary?
There is currently no group or institution centrally tracking disturbances within prisons and making that information widely available to the public. This lack of basic information is a limitation that we seek to address. By compiling this information, we seek to contribute to the growing conversation around incarceration. Additionally, the primary means by which information about prisoner resistance activity reaches the public is through press releases issued by individual departments of correction, sheriff’s departments, and private corporations. Although this is a valuable source of information, it relies upon those departments to elect to release information to the public according to their own policies and procedures and often relies upon prison administrators as the primary or sole source of information. Unfortunately, many disturbances within prisons go unreported in the media and most of those reported do not contain the perspectives of the prisoners engaging in those activities. These gaps in transparency make it hard to comprehensively analyze the scope of prisoner resistance activity. We seek to address this issue by combining crowdsourced information and our own reporting with effective standards for credibility. After forty years of mass incarceration, prison systems are facing a number of crises. Understaffing, budget cuts, labor struggles with guard unions, overcrowding, and shifting public opinion are leading to various proposals for overhauling prison systems. We seek to gather information about prisoner resistance activities that may inform the changing face of incarceration by spreading a greater understanding of how prisoners respond to their confinement and the conditions thereof.
How do we gather information?
We rely on a variety of sources of information such as crowdsourcing, direct information from prisoners and detainees, media coverage, social media, and statements from prison staff and administrations. In most cases, the information we include in our timeline has been verified by multiple sources and is usually also corroborated by the associated department of corrections or other carceral body. In some cases, we have chosen to include information that relies on a single source if we believe that the limitations of prison conditions have impacted prisoners’ ability to get information about an event to the public. In these cases, the limitations of available information have been noted.
What is included in our timeline?
Specifically, we track any disturbance within a jail, prison, or detention center since December of 2010 in the US or Canada that occurs as a result of the agency of multiple incarcerated people acting in concert in response to their confinement or the conditions thereof.
What is not included in our timeline?
In most cases, we do not include violence between groups of prisoners that do not contribute to or in some way constitute an effort to address the conditions of their confinement. We also do not include the many cases of individual rebellion that occur within prisons. Nor do we include disturbances that result from forces entirely outside the control of prisoners themselves, such as natural disasters, unless the response to these events on the part of prisoners constitute an event in themselves. We also do not include as separate events the many cases of activity in response to incarceration by people who are not incarcerated, such as outside demonstrations. However, if such an event occurs in concert with a disturbance within a jail, prison, or detention center, we will note it in the entry for that event. However, in situations in which any of the above events has a significant impact on the national conversation around prisons or is for some other reason extremely significant, such as the mass prisoner-on-prisoner violence at Lee Correctional Institution in South Carolina in April, 2018, we may choose to include these events on a case-by-case basis.
What if there is an error, omission, or incomplete event in the timeline?
We encourage feedback on any of the information included here. The scope of this project is massive and we cannot do it without the contributions of others. If something happens at a jail, prison, or detention center, please send us a tip even if you think we already know about it and even if you’re not sure if it meets our criteria: info [at] perilouschronicle [dot] com or via our contact page. Although we have done our best to gather the most accurate information available, we expect that the timeline involves errors of information and encourage you to help us find them.
How can you contribute?
As a small group of volunteers, we rely on the support of the public to continue this work. Support us by sharing Perilous with others, sending us information on prisoner resistance activities, or donating to the project. The more support we receive the more complete our coverage can be.
• Submit your information via our Contact page.
• Email us at info [at] perilouschronicle [dot] com
• Donate to the project via PayPal.