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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 148286 Find in a Library
Author(s): C L Blackburn-Line
Date Published: 1993
Page Count: 35
Sponsoring Agency: National Institute of Justice/
Rockville, MD 20849
NCJRS Photocopy Services
Rockville, MD 20849-6000
Sale Source: National Institute of Justice/
NCJRS paper reproduction
Box 6000, Dept F
Rockville, MD 20849
United States of America

NCJRS Photocopy Services
Box 6000
Rockville, MD 20849-6000
United States of America
Document: PDF
Type: Research (Theoretical)
Format: Document
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: The conference presentation uses chaos theory to explain the nature of prison riots. Neither practical causes (such as bad food, boredom, or lax security) nor theoretical causes (such as deprivation theory or breakdown theory) adequately explain or predict prison riots.
Abstract: In the absence of such explanations, it is argued that chaos theory can enhance understanding of these disorders. Chaos theory, which gained wide acceptance in the 1970's, uses complex computer technology to show that apparently random events (e.g., the dripping of a faucet or the configuration of snowflakes) follow a pattern though this pattern cannot be predetermined. Prison riots appear to follow a chaotic pattern: At times, a particular combination of circumstances causes a riot, whereas a similar constellation at a different prison remains peaceful. Although researchers have found patterns in prison riots, the course of a particular riot cannot be predicted because each riot is unique. According to chaos theory, riots are most likely to erupt when the environment is full of discrepancies and instability. Stable and safe prison conditions are the best protection against disorders. 27 references
Main Term(s): Corrections research
Index Term(s): Crowd behavior; Prison disorders; Riot causes; Theory
Note: Paper presented at 44th Annual Meetings of American Society of Criminology, New Orleans, LA, October 26-31, 1993
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