Feb 12, 2010

Geeks Are Criminals Too

I'll trade you 2 packs of cigarettes for desiccating burst. Quick, swallow your dice, the guards are coming! Don't worry, if you eat the chili tonight for dinner we'll be playing again by lights out.

Why the hell am I talking like I'm in a Kevin Smith remake of The Shawshank Redemption? The United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit in Chicago ruled that a ban on Dungeons & Dragons by the Waupun Correctional Institution in Wisconsin was well within their rights. A prisoner by the name of Kevin T. Singer originally attested his First Amendment and 14th Amendment rights were violated by the prison’s decision. They confiscated all of his materials pertaining to the game including a 96-page handwritten manuscript he put together himself. Dude, Dungeon Master got pwned.

The NY Times reported, "Mr. Singer, 'a D&D enthusiast since childhood,' according to the court’s opinion, was sentenced to life in prison in 2002 for bludgeoning and stabbing his sister’s boyfriend to death." Bludgeoning. Hmm, sounds like just another day for good ol' Ketar the Half-orc. One couldn't possibly imagine why the prison would want to take it away from him. Their official reasoning? "Dungeons & Dragons could 'foster an inmate’s obsession with escaping from the real-life correctional environment, fostering hostility, violence and escape behavior,' prison officials said in court."

As much sense as that might make to us NPCs, some are arguing D&D is no different than other forms of entertainment allowed by the prison system. The NY Times cited a blog post by Ilya Somin, an associate professor of law at George Mason University. He posed the question, “Should prisons ban ‘The Count of Monte Cristo’ on the grounds that it might encourage escape attempts?” He later said in an interview, “Ideally, you should really have more evidence that there is a genuine harm before you restrict something."

The NY Times also pointed out that while there were varied opinions on the ruling at the legally focused blog, "they showed that there were many lawyers who at some point owned a pouch with some dice of more than six sides." It's nice to see the NY Times having a bit of fun with this one. Don't worry though, just like drugs and porn, I'm sure D&D will find it's way back into Waupun Correctional *cough*Hide In Plain Sight*cough* somehow...

11 comments:

Amber Love said...

There are no words to express the stupidity of this ruling. Oh wait, I think I just did.

Randy said...

If they've already been jailed for giving into those impulses they seem to be trying to restrict, then I don't think a little D&D is going to corrupt them even more, right?

Drezz said...

At the risk of sounding inhumane, they ARE criminals after all. They're being punished for not abiding by the law, so in essence they should have to forfeit all their creature comforts - even if they're serving a life sentence.

They get enough of a break with parole hearings and suspended sentences. I don't see why they should be allowed internet access, televisions, etc.

I think the argument against the prisoners playing D&D is weak (promoting violent behaviour through role playing) but I believe that they shouldn't be allowed any perks period.

TS Hendrik said...

God I hope the prisoners take it to the next level and do a little cosplay. How awesome would it be if the warden woke up to a world of dwarves and warlocks?

And if they went around the penitentiary on "quests" all the better.

Eggs Maledict said...

@Drezz - you seem to be forgetting that for the most part, criminals will be released at some point. Part of the prison process is rehabilitation. Not offering them entertainment and so on (your "perks") almost guarantees that won't happen. What should they do? Sit in cells doing nothing at all? Because we know what happens to prisoners who have to do that. They become unstable and the recidivism rate sky-rockets.

Drezz said...

Most prisons don't promote a rehab process. The ones that do note that there is very limited effect on recidivism, because treatment doesn't extend beyond the walls of the pen.

If you get help while in prison, they you go back to your old neighbourhood, hang out with your old friends, you pick up the same bad habits.

Most prisoners are bred that way because they don't know any better and don't have the support to get better. If your friends and family don't care, why would you bother.

Unless rehab extends beyond the walls of the prison, it does very little good. Perhaps forcing prisoners to realize that they have it good on the outside and that being in prison is an experience they never would want to live through may scare them straight.

From a moral standpoint, I see your point. Realistically, it doesn't work. People are going to do what they feel like doing, not because they're expected to have a strong moral compass.

More responsibility must be taken for actions, rather than second chances, because society has made it acceptable to always find the easiest way out, and that there will always be someone there to bail you out.

Cody B. said...

Totally ridiculous. You are nearly a mental clone of my wife, which means you're awesome. Check out my blog at geektrospective.blogspot.com ...

KingEdRa said...

rolls d20, fails to make saving throw against violation of due process.

Gary said...

Hey, I love your blog. Would you mind If I Advertize it on mine? You may get like 3 new fans.... (Self Depreciating Humor.) If Not I love Female Comic Nerds!

The Nerdy Bird said...

Haha, go for it Gary! 3 new fans is better than no new fans. :)

Lucas said...

Maybe they'll let him play Hello Kitty Online to get his RPG fix. Though for me, I would think that would foster more desire for violence.