Prison Contingencies: What if...? : LUSENET : Millennium Salons : One Thread

Can anyone tell me what contingency plans are being made by Oregon jails and prison facilities? When power has been out for some time, how long will the emergency generators run before they run out of fuel? Then what? If such a facility cannot provide water, food, and warmth from winter cold, what will they do? Will they turn all the murderers, rapists, robbers and such loose? I suspect they will out of fear of the lawsuits that could result if they leave even the most dangerous prisoners in their cells to die. What do you think?

-- Bob Podolsky (, January 28, 1999


Techically, we're discovering that in most tested prison systems, the cell doors lock as a fail safe precaution. This information, of course, gives relief for the surrounding communities, but it is only a temporary contingency.

If the backup generators run out of fuel, food and water become disrupted due to breaks in the supply chain elsewhere, I believe the prison authorities will have to perform some type of triage. That is release the prisoners must likely to not wreak havoc and house the most dangerous offenders into smaller sustainable survival units.

Of course, the scenario will depend on how bad it gets. The State cannot allow prisoners to freeze or starve to death in their cells (cruel and unusual punishment) and if the situation warrants releasing prisoners because the backup generators cannot be refueled and shut down, well, they'll have to let them out.

While the Eastern Canada ice storms were happening, prisoners were moved to jails and prisons in other areas that had power. This may not be an option due to the numbers and other problems along the routes.

We can expect lawsuits from prisoners 'inconvienced' and the people who are victims of those released when they do commit crimes. And some of them will especially if there no one to stop them.

Another issue is the guards moral. It's reported to be generally at an all time low. Are they going to stay on duty while their families are at risk or the work conditions become too dangerous? I think not. The pay isn't that great and after years of abuse by the prisoners, some will opt to stay home and defend their families (as opposed to society at large).

Part of your personal contingency plans have to take in the location of jails and prisons in close proximity to your home.

-- Gary Allan Halonen (, February 03, 1999.

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