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Prison Bans D&D For Mimicking Gang Structure

kdawson posted more than 4 years ago | from the step-away-from-the-polyhedral-dice dept.

The Courts 496

Trepidity writes "In a case that has been winding its way through the courts for a while now, a Wisconsin prison banned inmates from playing Dungeons & Dragons, using the justification that 'one player is denoted the Dungeon Master... [who] is tasked with giving directions to other players... [which] mimics the organization of a gang.' The prison also cited some sparse evidence that a handful of non-inmate D&D players once committed some crimes that allegedly were related to their D&D playing. On Monday the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the regulation (PDF) against challenges from inmates. The court appeared skeptical of the ban, sarcastically referring to it as the 'war on D&D,' but upheld it nonetheless as having a 'rational basis.' Law professor Ilya Somin suggests that the court may have had no choice, given how deferential rational-basis review usually is."

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Is it just D&D ? (4, Interesting)

VShael (62735) | more than 4 years ago | (#30901930)

What if they played any other sort of RPG?

Or is the law so nutty that they'll ban boardgames like Clue because it features a murder? Or Colditz, because it features escaping from a prison?

Re:Is it just D&D ? (4, Insightful)

91degrees (207121) | more than 4 years ago | (#30901960)

I don't think it's against the law to play D&D, rather that it's legal for the prison to ban it if they can make a plausible case.

So it's a stupid rule that just happens to be upheld by a fairly reasonable law.

Re:Is it just D&D ? (4, Funny)

KiloByte (825081) | more than 4 years ago | (#30902324)

They don't want the prisoners to learn black magic rituals [chick.com] .

Re:Is it just D&D ? (4, Funny)

digitalhermit (113459) | more than 4 years ago | (#30902506)

You bastard!! That just brought back some memories of my childhood. This was a real conversation:

"So who is the dungeon master."

"Well, Jonathan is usually the dungeon master."

"Who is Jonathan?"

"He's my friend."

"So you can see him?"

"What do you mean? Of course I can see him."

"And he's the dungeon master?"

"Yes, he's the dungeon mater."

"Obviously this game is playing tricks with your mind if you think you can actually see this dungeon master."

Re:Is it just D&D ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30902738)

You bastard!! That just brought back some memories of my childhood. This was a real conversation:

"So who is the dungeon master."

"Well, Jonathan is usually the dungeon master."

"Who is Jonathan?"

"He's my friend."

"So you can see him?"

"What do you mean? Of course I can see him."

"And he's the dungeon master?"

"Yes, he's the dungeon mater."

"Obviously this game is playing tricks with your mind if you think you can actually see this dungeon master."

You aren't from Akron, Ohio are you?

Re:Is it just D&D ? (3, Informative)

bob0the0mighty (904854) | more than 4 years ago | (#30902762)

It took me until the end of the comic to realize it wasn't a joke. WTF?

Re:Is it just D&D ? (5, Insightful)

Anachragnome (1008495) | more than 4 years ago | (#30902492)

Personally, I just think the Warden doesn't want them having FUN.

And when you get down to brass tacks, it is a fucking PRISON.

When I looked at this from that perspective, it makes quite a lot of sense. Prison isn't supposed to be fun, folks.

"Hey! I never have to work again, my room and board are provided for me and I get to play D&D all fucking day!" This is most old-school gamers wet dream. The only thing missing is Mom cleaning up the basement for you once a month.

C'mon folks. We have to make it a deterrent, not something to look forward to. The only reason this is fucked up is because they don't just come out and state it that way. Instead, they rationalize and tie this shit up in a courtroom. They could have just said "No fucking games" and been done with it.

Re:Is it just D&D ? (2, Insightful)

Talderas (1212466) | more than 4 years ago | (#30902708)

I hate to be a me-too here, but you beat me to making a comment.

I see all these people going "Waa waa they won't let prisoners play D&D in prisoner." What the fuck? It's prison. It's punishment. You're crying about not being able to play a game? What if another story came along and said "Prisoners are banned from playing Grand Theft Auto because it encourages gangs." It doesn't matter the fucking justification, it's prison. Prison isn't supposed to be fun.

Re:Is it just D&D ? (4, Insightful)

N1AK (864906) | more than 4 years ago | (#30902784)

And playing D&D while your incarcerated isn't going to make the whole experience enjoyable. Do you really think anyone might of been sat there thinking "Man, now that I can play D&D in prison I'm not sufficiently put off trying to rob this bank?".

There is no one specific reason for putting people in prison, although generally people see it as being for protection of others and punishment of criminals (some would add to discourage other criminals). Personally I think protecting others is the most important of these reasons, and if letting the inmates play D&D in anyway improves the generally negative prison enviroment Ive got no issue with it.

Re:Is it just D&D ? (1)

Neoprofin (871029) | more than 4 years ago | (#30902060)

In Clue only one person is a murderer, perhaps not even a played character, and your job is to find the killer and report it to the police.

Sounds like a winner.

Re:Is it just D&D ? (3, Funny)

mcvos (645701) | more than 4 years ago | (#30902064)

What if they played any other sort of RPG?

Maybe the prison would prefer it if they played Shadowrun? Violent, gun-toting hoodlums breaking in and out of places sounds like just the thing to play when you're in prison.

Re:Is it just D&D ? (1)

DrMrLordX (559371) | more than 4 years ago | (#30902462)

I don't know if the guards would let you stash the 100000000000d6 you'd need to play a game of Shadowrun to completion. Besides, if you really want a game that would hack off a prison warden (or any number of other people), let the inmates play HoL [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Is it just D&D ? (3, Insightful)

martyros (588782) | more than 4 years ago | (#30902134)

As the article noted, lots of games might come under their "mimics gang structure" argument:

By this “reasoning,” you could ban the “cooperative game” of football because “during football games, one player is denoted the ‘quarterback.’ The quarterback is tasked with giving directions to other players.”

Re:Is it just D&D ? (1)

deniable (76198) | more than 4 years ago | (#30902214)

Better yet, some RPGs, similar to D&D use the term Referee instead of Dungeon Master, therefore any activity using a referee is suspect. No more sports. It's not like sports teams and gangs have any similarities either.

Re:Is it just D&D ? (2, Insightful)

cgenman (325138) | more than 4 years ago | (#30902220)

Not to be too elitist, but would it be a bad thing if they did ban other games like football? I mean, I don't mean to be harsh here, but these people are in prison. I'd like a fair, equitable, just applications of principles here. But at the same time, anything more than educational reading and meditation in a prison seems like it's a reward not a right.

Perhaps someone here with more experience in this sort of thing can comment on how rights like these apply when you're in jail.

Re:Is it just D&D ? (5, Interesting)

HungryHobo (1314109) | more than 4 years ago | (#30902256)

I think this comes under socialising and if you don't let people people socialise to a minimum extent it can screw up their minds.
In other words if you lock someone up in a room with nothing but a pile of food,books and some weights equipment for a few years they probably come out more than somewhat messed up in the head.

It occurs to me that it's like someone found that making their child go sit in the corner alone for 10 minutes when they were somewhat bad was a decent punishment and then tried to just sort of scale up the time and how far away the corner was for more serious offences and didn't consider that some things don't scale well...

Re:Is it just D&D ? (5, Funny)

TapeCutter (624760) | more than 4 years ago | (#30902672)

"In other words if you lock someone up in a room with nothing but a pile of food,books and some weights equipment for a few years they probably come out more than somewhat messed up in the head."

If you replace the word "weights" with "computer" you have a good definition of the stereotypical slashdoter.

Re:Is it just D&D ? (1)

Trepidity (597) | more than 4 years ago | (#30902298)

A prison probably could just not allow any group games at all. This particular prison appears to do so, though, but is uniquely worried about D&D, fearing that D&D-playing prisoners pose some sort of special risk that players of other games don't. That's the part that's sort of weird, and their rationale for it is not very convincing.

Re:Is it just D&D ? (2, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 4 years ago | (#30902748)

It would not entirely surprise me if somebody in the prison hierarchy loves jesus a whole lot, and is willing to be a prick about it.

Everybody knows that the "Dungeons and Dragons. Satan's game!" shtick is pure comedy; but it is based on a real undercurrent of hysteria.

Re:Is it just D&D ? (5, Insightful)

greentshirt (1308037) | more than 4 years ago | (#30902358)

You don't sound elitist, you sound sadly unaware of the very basics of human psychology.

Do you realize that the most severe punishment in any United States prison is solitary confinement? The human need for socialization is the very foundation of Sociology, Psychology, Political Science, Anthropology and many other schools. This is not opinion or conjecture, it is a basic assumption of most of the soft sciences and there have been many experiments that have shown the extreme adverse effects of solitary confinement.

Do yourself a favor and read Discipline and Punish. You'll start to understand that the prison system is not in fact as old as civilization but a very new, very disturbing invention.

The stated goals of prisons are to rehabilitate, they are called "correctional facilities". You cannot rehabilitate humans if you treat them like animals. All this ruling, and many like it, achieve is: a further sense of marginalization among the inmates, further reducing the chance of rehabilitation, a loss of a very positive venue for personal expression and imagination which could greatly aid in resocialization, more institutionalized, life long criminals. Our current system does not work nor is it meant to. Prisons are big business, and just like everything else, they are run by big business.

Re:Is it just D&D ? (1)

JustOK (667959) | more than 4 years ago | (#30902712)

it is NOT the foundation of Psychology.

Re:Is it just D&D ? (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30902368)

"..anything more than educational reading and meditation in a prison seems like it's a reward not a right."

Right on! I want people coming out of prison extremely bitter and angry that the last few to several to many months to years of their lives were joyless and unrewarding. I want them walking around free society having no fresh recollection of what it meant to feel happy or satisfied. I want them to be suddenly forced to interact with functioning members of society immediately after they have been denied any forms of entertainment or amusement in an otherwise hellish living situation.

How could there possibly be a downside to this?

Re:Is it just D&D ? (3, Interesting)

martyros (588782) | more than 4 years ago | (#30902756)

I think prison is bad enough; and if you make it really terrible, then you get screwed up people coming out the other end.

Also, it may be that you actually get a lot of enjoyment and refreshment out of "educational reading", and don't particularly enjoy football. But not everyone is of that bent: Imagine being sent to a prison where you *weren't* allowed educational reading, but *only* playing football. A little bit of "release" can change an unpleasant situation from unbearable to bearable.

Disclaimer: I'm certainly no expert, but I have visited a prison at least once. :-)

Re:Is it just D&D ? (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30902280)

I did a couple year stint for a drug crime and we played D&D all the time. We made different sided dice out of paper and cardboard. The guards only issue was when we made maps. They would often take our maps and make sure they weren't of the facility I was in. The dice were another issue as they were officially contraband, and when some guards were on duty we couldn't play.

D&D was an awesome time waster and great fantasy get away.

Poor guy (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30902326)

Did you enjoy being buttfucked by large nigger apemen while you were in prison?

Re:Is it just D&D ? (3, Informative)

AuMatar (183847) | more than 4 years ago | (#30902352)

If you can't use dice, you can make pages of the numbers 1-n repeated in a matrix and have the roller close his eyes and point to a number with a pencil. Change sheets regularly so they can't memorize locations. Just as random and no problems due to lack of dice (which I assume were contraband to avoid craps playing?)

Re:Is it just D&D ? (1)

jbezorg (1263978) | more than 4 years ago | (#30902468)

Dice roller app and PDFs of the rules on the cell phones that get in?

Re:Is it just D&D ? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30902818)

According to this, checkers mimics gang warfare due to elimination of the other team's guys.

No worries (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30901936)

They are now all playing Mafia Wars.

Re:No worries (1)

anss123 (985305) | more than 4 years ago | (#30902096)

They are now all playing Mafia Wars.

Why are so many people playing that game? Is it modern day D&D?

Re:No worries (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30902572)

They are now all playing Mafia Wars.

Why are so many people playing that game? Is it modern day D&D?

Pretty much. Except it's less entertaining. The game has almost no redeeming qualities. It's just buttons you click over and over. The "social" aspect is almost totally void because the UI doesn't really take advantage of your network of friends... well, it leaches them to spread itself like a virus.

D&D is much more social (people in front of you) and much more involved as there's a complex story telling element. Mafia Wars is so restricted that you can only click the same buttons hundreds and hundreds of times ... to the point you start to ignore what they say. No imagination of "my mafia" anymore. Just buttons... clicking... clicking... clicking...

Re:No worries (1)

anss123 (985305) | more than 4 years ago | (#30902722)

No imagination of "my mafia" anymore. Just buttons... clicking... clicking... clicking...

Sounds like a game that tries to be a winner for everyone. The more you click the more you win.

No wonder it's popular.

Playing games in prison (1, Interesting)

s1lverl0rd (1382241) | more than 4 years ago | (#30901938)

Why are inmates playing games anyway? They have lots of time - shouldn't they spend that time learning pottery/cooking/raising kids/social skills/programming so that they are fun people by the time they get out of jail?

Re:Playing games in prison (3, Funny)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 4 years ago | (#30901972)

They could be learning to post on /. - the pinnacle of civilized interaction with other people.

Re:Playing games in prison (1)

Errol backfiring (1280012) | more than 4 years ago | (#30901996)

Especially programming and preferably foreign languages. Today's scams are awful.
They should think of their career!

Re:Playing games in prison (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30902010)

Because prison isn't like what you see in the movies. You can't do any of that shit in prison. It's not rehab, it's lockdown and conditioning.

Re:Playing games in prison (1)

symes (835608) | more than 4 years ago | (#30902012)

Why are inmates playing games anyway? They have lots of time - shouldn't they spend that time learning pottery/cooking/raising kids/social skills/programming so that they are fun people by the time they get out of jail?

That's the ideal - at least in the UK. The reality is overcharging consultants providing mediocre services to a system that is fundamentally unable to cope. Strangely - it is only the offenders who seem to care anymore...

Big Brother (3, Funny)

CdXiminez (807199) | more than 4 years ago | (#30901946)

Soon, the game Paranoia will be outlawed.

Re:Big Brother (5, Funny)

BlueTrin (683373) | more than 4 years ago | (#30901994)

Well not really, they would rather ban Monopoly and its ... "Get out of jail" card ...

That could give ideas to inmates.

Re:Big Brother (1)

MartinSchou (1360093) | more than 4 years ago | (#30902130)

Don't forget to ban "Snakes and Ladders" as well.

Re:Big Brother (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30902190)

Or Clue like someone mentioned in another post : )

It isn't why you think... (2, Funny)

squidguy (846256) | more than 4 years ago | (#30901966)

After seeing Oz, the concept of "dungeonmaster" in prison brings on a whole new meaning...

In other news (0, Troll)

symes (835608) | more than 4 years ago | (#30901988)

Monopoly banned for associations with bling, checkers banned due to confrontational game play, scrabble because it can be used to pass encrypted messages...

99% of all murderers ate bread in the 12 months leading up to their crime, so lets ban bread while we are here. oh, and lets ban judges because they are clearly hangovers from a rather medieval system also associated with chopping peoples heads off.

Re:In other news (1)

drkim (1559875) | more than 4 years ago | (#30902166)

Well, I guess that would only leave them a nice, quiet game of GTA to pass the time to pass the time...

Re:In other news (1)

Zarf (5735) | more than 4 years ago | (#30902588)

Monopoly banned for associations with bling, checkers banned due to confrontational game play, scrabble because it can be used to pass encrypted messages...

99% of all murderers ate bread in the 12 months leading up to their crime, so lets ban bread while we are here. oh, and lets ban judges because they are clearly hangovers from a rather medieval system also associated with chopping peoples heads off.

Gee whiz! Taking away all those freedoms... It sounds like prison!

Should they be playing games in prison, anyway? (0)

GrubLord (1662041) | more than 4 years ago | (#30902000)

I get that Dungeons & Dragons is Satan's Game and all that, but this all seems rather beside the point to me.

These people are in there because they committed serious crimes, and are supposed to be facing the consequences of their crimes, doing hard labour, and learning to reintegrate into society.

Sitting around playing games and watching TV all day while the state ensures you're well fed doesn't exactly sound like the kind of negative reinforcement that would spur a behavioural change.

Re:Should they be playing games in prison, anyway? (1)

mcvos (645701) | more than 4 years ago | (#30902076)

I don't know. They're still not free, you know. And you don't want to send inmates into a deep depression either. Yes, learning useful skills sounds like a good way to pass the time there, but there's a lot of time in prison, and they need to relax every once in a while too. Besides, RPGs can also teach useful skills.

Re:Should they be playing games in prison, anyway? (4, Informative)

Trepidity (597) | more than 4 years ago | (#30902128)

Most prisons have some leisure time alloted, which wasn't really at issue here--- the warden had no problem with there being leisure time, he just didn't want D&D played during that leisure time. The prison appears fine with inmates watching TV or reading books or playing chess or whatever during that time.

Mostly what caught my eye is the absurdity of "D&D has a dungeonmaster who gives orders, which is like a gang" rationale. There might be some good reason prisoners should have less leisure in general, or should be prohibited from playing D&D in particular, but that particular reason is pretty absurd.

Re:Should they be playing games in prison, anyway? (0)

AuMatar (183847) | more than 4 years ago | (#30902392)

Yes, the reason is absurd. But it is prison- they don't have a full set of rights anymore. The warden really should have discretion to ban anything he feels like during leisure time. Now I'd like to see him have a better reason as a way to prove to me, the taxpayer, that he knows what the hell he's doing and not just reading fundie literature. But I don't think the ban is unconstitutional at all.

re: should they be playing games in prison anyway? (1)

ed.han (444783) | more than 4 years ago | (#30902630)

i don't believe the issue is constitutionality so much as fear of the precedent this would create from the crummy logic being employed here.

irrespective of whether you feel that prisoners should be miserable in prison, the idea that any kind of hierarchical structure, no matter how innocuous, could theoretically lead to gang activity--which relationship the state is unable to demonstrate, incidentally--is extraordinarily broad. the volokh blog specifically skewers that thinking: should pick-up football games be banned b/c one inmate is the QB and he provides instruction to the other players of his team? couldn't that hierarchhical structure also theoretically lead to gang activity under the state's logic?

ed

Re:Should they be playing games in prison, anyway? (1)

Skuto (171945) | more than 4 years ago | (#30902402)

>are supposed to be...learning to reintegrate into society

>Sitting around playing games and watching TV all day

Makes perfect sense to me!

Work Programs (5, Interesting)

Nerdfest (867930) | more than 4 years ago | (#30902008)

Well, I hope these people don't participate in any work training programs. Those are also structured disturbing like gangs, with a leader and people specializing in different things. I think some people have also committed crimes while at work.

Escapism (0)

jasper_amsterdam (788332) | more than 4 years ago | (#30902014)

The escapism argument makes sense, in a way. Being in prison is not just about removing a dangerous element from society, it is about taking someone's freedom as a punishment. If you're allowed entertainment that has you exploring vast worlds, you're actually halfway out of prison.

Re:Escapism (1)

Trepidity (597) | more than 4 years ago | (#30902112)

That rationale would ban fiction novels, too, though (well, except maybe gritty realist fiction), which prisons don't generally do.

Re:Escapism (1)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 4 years ago | (#30902152)

Being in prison is not just about removing a dangerous element from society, it is about taking someone's freedom as a punishment.

      Actually prison as "punishment" is now a violation of human rights. Prisons are supposed to be entirely for the purposes of "rehabilitation".

      Of course the people who wrote the human rights have no understanding that most of the people in prison have serious anti social personality disorders, probably can't be "rehabilitated", and probably don't qualify as "human" in the first place. But that's another story.

Re:Escapism (1)

HungryHobo (1314109) | more than 4 years ago | (#30902272)

little side tangent, if you suffer from some mental disorder which makes you dangerous to others is it's societies duty to punish you for being sick or to try to cure you?

Re:Escapism (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30902330)

If most people in prisons have serious antisocial personality disorders, does that mean, that antisocial personality orders are vastly more common in the US than in the rest of the world?

Re:Escapism (0)

AuMatar (183847) | more than 4 years ago | (#30902426)

Actually most people in prison are there for drug crimes. While that characterization may apply to a large number of the dealers (many of whom are involved with pretty violent gangs), it doesn't to the users. Wanting to smoke a little pot (or coke, or heroin, or angel dust, or meth, or anything else) doesn't mean you have a violent anti social personality disorder.

Re:Escapism (1)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 4 years ago | (#30902776)

Actually most people in prison are there for drug crimes.

      I was under the understanding that most people in prison were completely innocent.

      You can look up the statistics for yourself, yes? That's the joy of the internet era and things like google. 70 to 80 percent of prison populations have anti social personality disorder. That's an established [mentalhealth.com] fact [mdguidelines.com] . Now you can argue all you want, but it won't change the facts, yes?

Re:Escapism (1)

qc_dk (734452) | more than 4 years ago | (#30902428)

Of course the people who wrote the human rights have no understanding that most of the people in prison have serious anti social personality disorders, probably can't be "rehabilitated", and probably don't qualify as "human" in the first place. But that's another story.

I doubt that is the case. Unless you believe that a very large percentage of Americans have personality disorders and don't qualify as humans. A much larger fraction than in other countries around the world.

Sure some are so far gone that they can never be rehabilitated, but I'd argue that most are not.

If you wanted to create a well-adjusted person would you lock your child up with a bunch of murderers, arsonists and rapists as the only humans to interact with? Having to live in fear of being beaten up or raped. With nothing to do but stare at a wall. Then why would you think it would be a good thing to inflict on adults?

The problem is that putting people in prison for rehabilitation is the worst plan since Abe Lincoln said to his wife: "I'm sick of sitting around the house, let's catch a play."

Re:Escapism (2, Interesting)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 4 years ago | (#30902728)

I doubt that is the case. Unless you believe that a very large percentage of Americans have personality disorders and don't qualify as humans.

      You present a non sequitur. First of all, that's not what I said. Only around 3% of the general population have anti social personality disorder. Secondly I made no comparison to other countries. However Up to 80% [jobaccess.gov.au] of prison populations have this disorder (the cited article says 75%, in med school I learned 80%). This is logical since the people who commit the crimes are more likely to be caught and sent to prison, so you will end up with a concentrating effect of the disorder in the prison population. No one said "American", and I don't have comparative data for other countries around the world. However it would be reasonable to assume that there's nothing special about "Americans" in particular, and similar statistics must exist in other countries.

If you wanted to create a well-adjusted person would you lock your child up with a bunch of murderers, arsonists and rapists as the only humans to interact with?

      I do not think that the current model is the best model. As a preventive and deterrent system, it is clearly broken. As for rehabilitation, well, that's a joke too. Frankly my own views are rather extreme, and will never be implemented, and are certainly a violation of human rights. But we were talking about the actual world we live in.

The problem is that putting people in prison for rehabilitation is the worst plan since Abe Lincoln said to his wife: "I'm sick of sitting around the house, let's catch a play."

      Agreed. But you just can't hang them in public anymore.

Re:Escapism (1)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 4 years ago | (#30902160)

AROOOOOGA! Imagination detected in sector 7G. Initiate emergency synaptic lockdown.

Re:Escapism (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30902652)

Poor Homer Simpson. Not even allowed to use his imagination.

Re:Escapism (3, Insightful)

Rollgunner (630808) | more than 4 years ago | (#30902188)

With the exception that once the game ends and you return to your cell, the reality of your situation is inescapable.

You may have thought that you'd escaped for a few hours, but you didn't escape at all, and that taste of imagined freedom turns to ash.

Th cruelest prisons always have a window to the open sky...

Re:Escapism (1)

bickerdyke (670000) | more than 4 years ago | (#30902206)

Wrong. Beeing in prison is about BOTH of it. And in addition, it's also about receiving training on how to fit into a mainly non-criminal society.

You know... some three pillars -stuff..... the thing you would present with three overlapping circles in a powerpoint-slideshow.

In other news ... (5, Funny)

Noughmad (1044096) | more than 4 years ago | (#30902036)

The United States Supreme Court banned the government, using the justification that 'one player is denoted the President... [who] is tasked with giving directions to other players... [which] mimics the organization of a gang.' The court also cited some sparse evidence that a handful of other presidents once committed some crimes that allegedly were related to their governing.

Then they also have to ban... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30902044)

If a game where one person moderates the actions of the other players is banned because of that, then they will have to ban every game that has a referee or judge, as well as any plays that have a director, music that uses a conductor, and so many other activities.

Admittedly I never though about prisoners doing any of those things, including D&D, but hey, whatever works.

Perhaps Wisconsin just wants their inmates lifting weights so they benchpress a freaking car during their next robbery or something. Obviously more desirable than letting someone participate in a moderated adlib fantasy play where you (usually) take the part of heroes against the forces of evil. Can't let them criminal types learn ta use dem brains and actually tink dey can better demselves. Why if dey did dat, us cops and law-yurs wouldn't have nobody ta prosecute...

Sorry for the extreme sarcasm, but those idiots deserve it. Maybe if they played more D&D (and a few other PnP RPGs) they'd have less riots, violence, and repeat offenders. Of course, taking away a gamers books and dice might just start one...

Uh-huh (1)

paj1234 (234750) | more than 4 years ago | (#30902058)

There might be evidence that some inmates go on to commit crimes that are related to their spell in prison. So ban prison.

Re:Uh-huh (0)

delinear (991444) | more than 4 years ago | (#30902124)

Dungeons and Dragons. Spell in prison. Heh heh.

Re:Uh-huh (2, Insightful)

RogueyWon (735973) | more than 4 years ago | (#30902138)

Here's a better idea... ban crimes!

Nip the problem in the bud.

What A Flawed Premise... (5, Insightful)

Rollgunner (630808) | more than 4 years ago | (#30902062)

'one player is denoted the Dungeon Master... [who] is tasked with giving directions to other players... [which] mimics the organization of a gang.'

Clearly, no-one involved in the case has ever played a decent game of D&D. But why bother with facts when prejudice and hysteria will suffice ?

For the 0.0001% of Slashdotters who've never played, a good "dungeon master" (just like a good computer game programmer) creates an interactive environment for players to explore.

What the players decide to do from there is what can make the game an interesting vehicle for self-discovery and excercising one's imagination and problem-solving abilities.

It no more mimics the structure of a gang than someone attending a lecture or watching a play.

Re:What A Flawed Premise... (1)

itsdapead (734413) | more than 4 years ago | (#30902278)

'one player is denoted the Dungeon Master... [who] is tasked with giving directions to other players... [which] mimics the organization of a gang.'

Of course, the prison may just have banned D&D because it was causing trouble, much as a school might ban trading cards because they were causing fights and aruments, and the above nonsense could just be some post-hoc rationalization that their lawyers came up with to defend against the frivolous lawsuit.

I mean, ye gods, if the most heinous offense against human dignity in this place is that you're not allowed to play D&D, then US prisons have been receiving some very unfair press...

Re:What A Flawed Premise... (2, Insightful)

Trepidity (597) | more than 4 years ago | (#30902386)

If the prison had actually just said, "we banned D&D because it was causing trouble", the whole thing would've seemed a lot more reasonable to me, and probably not really worth commenting on. I'm not quite sure why they didn't just say that, actually, unless it really wasn't causing problems, so they couldn't anyone to testify that D&D-playing prisoners were causing problems--- so they had to resort to the more hypothetical rationale, bolstered by testimony from a "gang expert", that D&D might potentially cause gang activity.

I'm guessing it's more likely a strange sort of paranoia, where some warden really did think it was somehow gang-related. I personally would rather have prisoners playing D&D than lifting weights all the time, though, which seems strangely to be permitted at most prisons.

if you're called the "dungeon master" in prison (1)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 4 years ago | (#30902480)

i think it has more to do with S&M than D&D

just saying

So I really was in gangs during childhood (1)

noidentity (188756) | more than 4 years ago | (#30902090)

Wow, this makes me feel a lot better about my youth. Apparently I wasn't a geek who played D&D all the time and never got out, no, I was in a gang! Maybe they'll find that living in a basement is actually the same structure as a president living in a secure bunker giving orders to everyone.

My Crime (5, Funny)

BlackHawk-666 (560896) | more than 4 years ago | (#30902098)

"The prison also cited some sparse evidence that a handful of non-inmate D&D players once committed some crimes that allegedly were related to their D&D playing."

My only crime was to CAST FIREBALL at LEVEL 6 and do 6D6 damage to everyone in a huge sphere in front of me...except the ones who made their saving throws.

I wouldn't even be here except I rolled a 4 on my SAVING THROW VS. JUDGES

Re:My Crime (1)

polar red (215081) | more than 4 years ago | (#30902146)

I wouldn't even be here except I rolled a 4 on my SAVING THROW VS. JUDGES

are you a dwarf ? maybe you should add [CON/3.5] to that.

Re:My Crime (1)

Anarchduke (1551707) | more than 4 years ago | (#30902710)

The warden overheard this:

Yo, I done shanked the bitch for making fun of my Halfling Paladin. Nobody laughs at Sir Fuzzy Toes and lives.

Freedom of speech (5, Funny)

smitty_one_each (243267) | more than 4 years ago | (#30902102)

Freedom of speech
Beyond prison reach
Societal deportment
So hard to teach
Burma shave

Try to see it from the prison's POV (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30902126)

Nobody is implying that Fantasy_Game => Criminality, except the readers. Actually what's being implied is Criminality & Fantasy_Game => Criminality, which of course is a valid argument. It's not D&D at fault, but D&D being just another environment where preexisting behaviours are reinforced through formal D&D rules (and "therefore" being enabled by the prisons).

The fact that the situation is Criminality & Fantasy_Game => Criminality is what makes the second linked source (volokh.com) call the argument a weak one: the preceding argument's conclusion does not need Fantasy Game to make the argument valid. Whether Fantasy_Game actually has anything to do with Criminality is up for debate. The only thing that can be proven for sure, from the understanding provided by the articles, is that Fantasy_Game either: allows Criminality, or has no effect on Criminality (i.e. it is not preventing Criminality).

Bottom line: nothing more than people getting worked up with (p->q) !=> (q->p).

Re:Try to see it from the prison's POV (1)

delinear (991444) | more than 4 years ago | (#30902198)

I don't really know what you're saying here, I don't see any readers implying (other than in jest) that fantasy games have anything to do with criminality. The implication is very strongly that a spurious link to criminality was used to justify a ban on something the prison authorities just don't like.

As to your claim that the only options are either fantasy games allow criminality or have no effect on criminality, I'd repudiate that absolute claim unless you can provide evidence that playing games which encourage imagination and social interaction and highlight the consequences of ones actions as well as (generally though admittedly not always in D&D) guiding the players along the path of "good" with positive reinforcement have zero effect on reducing instances of repeat offences.

Re:Try to see it from the prison's POV (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30902222)

I wrote "from the understanding provided by the articles" exactly because I anticipated that someone would ping me for the absolute claim :D. I made that statement on the basis of the (implicit) argument. I too am of the view that games can be used to prevent criminality (in contradiction to what I posted before). The "absolute claim" is one that I derived from both the content of the article and the general theme of my posting.

Oblig.: Guns don't kill people, ... (5, Funny)

Ihlosi (895663) | more than 4 years ago | (#30902178)

... magic missiles do.

This is jive, man. (4, Funny)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 4 years ago | (#30902186)

I'ma tell my crew about it tonight after we execute every single one of those goblin mu'fas, take all they bling, and use it to buy mad straps.

Absurd (0)

deadb0lt (519221) | more than 4 years ago | (#30902230)

I openly admit to not reading ALL comments prior to posting this, but.... I think the top level posters so far are missing the real issue here. These people are in Jail for a reason. Let's not treat them to things they do not deserve. Jail should be a place to serve a sentance and to hopefully let the the criminals reflect on their crime and hopefully learn a lesson. It SHOULDN'T be a place where criminals get to hang out and play board games. That's just ridiculous. Yes, D&D and any other aformentioned board games are harmless, but enabling someone to have fun in a place of punishment is just downright absurd. I know people who have been to jail, and while they say it was absolutely no fun at all, their behavior after their sentance really didn't change. The system is broken. We can't let people forget the reason they're being punished...

Re:Absurd (2, Insightful)

Eudial (590661) | more than 4 years ago | (#30902252)

I openly admit to not reading ALL comments prior to posting this, but.... I think the top level posters so far are missing the real issue here. These people are in Jail for a reason. Let's not treat them to things they do not deserve.

Jail should be a place to serve a sentance and to hopefully let the the criminals reflect on their crime and hopefully learn a lesson. It SHOULDN'T be a place where criminals get to hang out and play board games. That's just ridiculous. Yes, D&D and any other aformentioned board games are harmless, but enabling someone to have fun in a place of punishment is just downright absurd. I know people who have been to jail, and while they say it was absolutely no fun at all, their behavior after their sentance really didn't change.

The system is broken. We can't let people forget the reason they're being punished...

If they are not treated to any entertainment at all, they will become depressed and kill themselves. Clearly, this is not the intention of jail either, is it? I understand that you have some sort of sadistic need to see these people suffer, but there are limits to how you can treat people (yes, inmates are people too), both stemming from psychology and international law.

Punish as punish can (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30902294)

Yes, yes! Let the only board game be waterboarding!

Seriously. I don't get why you folks are so thirsty for other's punishment.

Ideally, prison should be there for society to protect itself (its members) from criminal behaviour. Anything going beyond that is too much. Society should treat inmates with as much respect as possible and with as little restrictions as necessary.

Get a grip.

Competition (1)

deniable (76198) | more than 4 years ago | (#30902234)

What's a warden but a 'dungeon master.' Maybe he didn't want to share the title.

solution (1)

someone1234 (830754) | more than 4 years ago | (#30902246)

They should ask a prison guard to be the Dungeon Master :)

Well prisons are a dungeon of sorts. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30902270)

I guess the wardens don't want to deal with dragons as well.

Something else that mimics... (1)

KitsuneSoftware (999119) | more than 4 years ago | (#30902276)

One person taking charge? Sounds like management to me. Which came first, the gang or the manager?

The Prison Guards are ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30902304)

led by a warden, which clearly mimics a gang. By way of this presumption, prison guards and the warden should be banned from prisons.

You know what else mimicks gang structure?? (2, Interesting)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 4 years ago | (#30902312)

HUMANITY!

This is pure hunter/gatherer humanity: http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2009/12/hadza/finkel-text [nationalgeographic.com]
Tell me that does not prove that the natural structure of human society is that of gangs!?

Man, stupid, stupid, STUPID.

The Benefits of D&D for a prisoner (4, Insightful)

ImNotAtWork (1375933) | more than 4 years ago | (#30902362)

There is a DM someone who sets the rules of the game and make sure everyone plays with in the imaginary boundaries. The DM is an authority figure and the players must acquesce to his/her rules. This is basically a model for prison life and some would say life as a "good citizen".

If the rules are in dispute you negotiate and resolve the issue before moving on. Negotation is definitely something you want to teach to violent offenders since they may not have had any 1st hand experience with it.

Basic mathematics and reading. Playing a game and being good at it requires one to learn the rules of the game. You want to find that numbers advantage? the DM isn't going to hand it to you on a silver platter. Many small gamers learn to read so they can figure out what to do next or what the screen is telling them and the same can apply in a prison setting with low literacy rates and math skills.

Abstract problem solving skills. Ok this makes the criminal more dangerous but it could be a skill set that could be used for good and finding a respectable job. (yes I know about job aps and disclosure of arrests/prison time)

As some one said before socializing with others as well as team work to accomplish goals together.

Dungeon/Prison Master/Warden (1)

src1138 (212903) | more than 4 years ago | (#30902388)

Actually, having a guy called "dungeon master" telling prisoners what to do sounds just like prison.

Good to know! (1)

Dr. Spork (142693) | more than 4 years ago | (#30902454)

Note to self: Don't be Chaotic Evil in Wisconsin!

In other news... (1)

SirGarlon (845873) | more than 4 years ago | (#30902542)

'one player is denoted the Dungeon Master... [who] is tasked with giving directions to other players... [which] mimics the organization of a gang.'

In my workplace, one worker is denoted the Manager, who is tasked with giving directions to the other workers, which mimics the organization of a gang.

Or a software company. Or a labor union. Or a political party, family unit, social club, tribe, republic, grange, baseball team, or university department. Wow, just about every human institution mimics the structure of a gang!

In a related story, prison officials ban food because its hydrocarbon compounds mimic the chemical structure of explosives.

If D&D is analagous to gang structure... (1)

drfreak (303147) | more than 4 years ago | (#30902604)

Cyberpunk and Paranoia are probably ok then.

Sad (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30902742)

Its a pity the prison can't see its way to let people escape into their imagination. The outlet would probably make them healthier and easier to manage. I wonder if an outright ban means that decent prisoners are denied structured story telling to pass their time.

Heh (4, Insightful)

pyster (670298) | more than 4 years ago | (#30902798)

Heh... So, instead of playing D&D they will just shank other inmates in their free time. I'm betting this isnt about security, or gangs, or any of that shit in reality. It's about the warden being a poostabbing griefer. Well, I hope they knife him to death when the riots come.
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