[SUGGESTION - LONG] Prison Politics

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dawgtanyan
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[SUGGESTION - LONG] Prison Politics

Postby dawgtanyan » Sat Oct 11, 2014 2:27 pm

I am not really a games developer at all so this might come across a bit oddly. I am an academicy type though from a politics background (though not exactly this field since I focus on international, economic, and historical questions) who has worked in prisoner campaigns and had a few mates go to prison (in the UK) as well.

I am not really even much of a gamer as well so sorry if this comes across as unfun, the only games I tend to play these days are tycoon style games and I am certainly a “casual gamer” despite taking them (as you will see) far too seriously!

I am really liking PA so far. The simple fact of trying to reproduce a prison is really interesting, as your essentially trying to manage an aggressive environment but in a tycoon game which are usually built around trying to make everything progressively smoother. It’s an excellent dynamic.

The key element which needs to be added, and is of course mentioned a lot here, is gangs. That would be essential to providing prisoners with a layer of organisation of their own and providing some sort of structure to combat and control to ensure unrest was chaotic and not planned.

The second key element is of course corruption, which will give the staff some life as well! But I am going to leave that aside for now.

The element I think has been completely unmentioned though, has been prisoner politics. This has been a common part of incarcerated life for decades and was central to almost every single major moment of prisoner unrest in modern history as it acts as an organisational locus above gangs, which often also need some sort of planning to operate, and ensures prisoners act directly against the prison itself.

The system I am going to suggest is going to try and include what I think are the key elements of prisoner politics divided into some key components with some causes and effects built in, which I think could act as a really interesting structural dynamic to counter pose gangs once they are implemented.

I hope it isn’t arrogant as well, but from watching the alpha videos I know rewards have been meted out to people who write long spiels on the forums. If any of this is actually impressive though then all I really want to ask for if a memorial to Pauline Campbell (http://www.theguardian.com/society/2008 ... probation1) somewhere in the game. I know the game shouldn’t ever have to reflect the seriousness of her struggle, you are not an education tool and frankly it would be incredible decisive to become one. But it would be nice to see her not lost in one of the first games even vaguely taking prisoners seriously.

To go onto the actual key bit now! I would propose that prison politics should be involve effectively two layers:

The first is individual prisoners who should have a sense of political conscience: built up by education (including in prison education which I will get to later), a random figure reflecting background, traits (ex-gang member as a fusion of snitch and some sense of politics would be fun for example), and events that occur in prison (guards killing inmates, use of solitary, corruption etc). Importantly socialising with prisoners of a higher conscience should raise this as well.

This would become linked to goals which should hopefully be both passive (we are underfed, we don’t see the sky) or active (solitary is brutal for drugs, or we need more doctors) which would be gained as traits when trigged by say being not fed enough for a day for underfed, or being injured for to long for wanting more doctors. I think prisoners should be “allowed” to contain multiple demands though certainly that should reflect their conscience as well (are they thinking opportunistically or systemically effectively).

The system I think would best represent how politics tends to work is these two points clashing. I mean roughly if we take prisoner conscience to be a scale from 0.0 to 1.0 then the weight of their demands should = (conscience*1)*amount of time a prisoner spends with other prisoners as a relative figure. That would mean you get generally demands being weighted by the force of who argues them and the force of how often they get to argue for them!

That system then should produce a fairly neat organic list of demands for what prisoners want reflecting more than just the needs system and providing them weight an absolute figure of popularity (which is important for my next point).

The second layer then is militancy which reflects how prisoners might get demands across now that they know they want them, and they know how much they want them! The level of militancy would effectively serve as a second level of anger, but one which is far more directed.
To maintain low militancy, demands should be met effectively and prisoners should be allowed to express grievances freely. If you include a library/postal system that would be an area that you need to keep open to maintain low militancy for example.

The more direct form should be that prisoner demands once prioritised need a mechanic to become an actual goal. There are complex, and not so complex ways of doing this. The complex way would be to institute effectively a voting system in the prison so demands are presented organically. For example once demands are prioritised on the individual level then if one isn’t the majority weighted by prisoner conscience (Total Conscience*1/Prisoners I guess) then the next free time the least popular demand is eliminated (as a trait as well since it would represent a goal seeming unachievable) every free time or point of regime when prisoners get the chance to socialise till one does gain majority. The less complex way would just be to have the top demand always being “selected” on a random timescale.

These should be timed, low militancy = longer to meet, higher= less time to meet. They should also be relatively easy I guess as well but also (and this is super important) permanent. If you’re asked to add two more doctors on top of your original two. Then you must from now on have four doctors, or you will take a raise in militancy. If you’re told to ban solitary for drug offenses then you have to ban it forever or you get a rise in militancy.

They should also be ignorable, I mean you would only gain a raise in militancy for doing so. Completing them should also have a trade off as well, in so far as prisoners should all gain a raise in conscience for being around as one is completed. Once you start doing this the trade-off should be you get more and more timely demands as it takes less time for the voting system to work itself through (in the complex way I described above though I need to check my equations are right to be sure it would work like that) and more accurate in terms of actually meeting your prisoners needs.

If you ignore them however, then you get militant responses, and alongside sending the demand there should be a chance of acts such as work strikes, hunger strikes, attempts to attack warden/staff, freeing particular people (solitary), refusing to go back to cells etc etc. This is obviously more disobedience alongside demands, to spur you to complete them faster as you also get increasingly shortened time frames to do so.

Once you get to the higher levels then that is when you get your major moments. Demands are no longer sent as tasks, and riots are organised. The difference hopefully with these riots would be some element of planning though by politically conscience prisoners who would fulfil the above tasks of disobedience as other prisoners did normal riot behavior and they would also move to become involved once it begun, as well as timing it as times which seem appropriate (if possible). I don’t think the name should be changed though on your screen, these should look like normal riots its just that you should be able to observe prisoners fulfilling aims.

Once their quelled militancy goes down though individual conscience for participants should shoot up and traits should be added for “political riots”. Or if the military are called in then the demands you didn't fulfill and the names of the dead prisoners, along with ages, if they are parents, and crimes, and how they died, should be added to ending screen.

Their obviously can be a lot of other layers to this as well. I mean this is obviously all only internal prison business. The idea of socialisation should be more key as it develops since obviously political prisoner are usually minority who rely on opportunism rather than a force which just swells up over time.

I hope this isn't just manic. I know it is very very very long but as I am not a games designer I tried to develop some basic systems which could represent the norms of politics and the norms of prison politics in some fairly basic numbered ways with X Y effects depending on systems which the game seemingly already has in place. It certainly won't be very good for representing the actual contours of politics surrounding prisons re: its links with outside politics but it hopefully will produce real demands from prisoners which have consequences for both ignoring and supporting since your dealing with a hostile group of people.
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RichieGrape
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Re: [SUGGESTION - LONG] Prison Politics

Postby RichieGrape » Sun Oct 12, 2014 12:29 am

Wow! i gotta say well thought out and i agree....sounds like one hell of a project though
dawgtanyan
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Re: [SUGGESTION - LONG] Prison Politics

Postby dawgtanyan » Sun Oct 12, 2014 8:46 am

I can imagine it would be. I tried to link it into already existing systems but beyond HTML I have zero idea about how you make games so its not that sensistive to introversion needs!
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Re: [SUGGESTION - LONG] Prison Politics

Postby zbyrne » Mon Oct 13, 2014 2:28 pm

sounds pretty ambitious. but ye i like it. i would add that for a system like this to work, the average prisoner would have to be pretty unpolitical, but the instigators and such would have a big role in this. i would say though that simply ignoring them isn't enough tho. After all this is prison, and generally prisons don't cave to prisoner demands. So you can try and break a prisoner's spirit, and they come to accept that they cannot affect change. basically cynicism and disillusionment with the system, and acceptance that it's "broken."

Another thing that could be considered is outside political influences. (or business, as this is technically a for profit). the obvious suggestion is if the death penalty is properly introduced, then you'd have protests outside the prison. those protests could in turn influence either corporate, or politicians (so getting a call from the governor at the 11th hour for instance). if implemented properly, then more "brutal" punishments might be available early game, but have to be rolled back or removed as time goes on. Sort of like, a prison in the 1950's, compared to today, because we have human rights now, or prison watch, or even just prisoners are not looked upon with so much disgust by society more generally. The prison you start off with will have to change it's policies over the game to react and keep up with social pressures.

By yeah mate, great ideas. (And btw have you played any Paradox stuff? EU and Victoria got all that in it, militancy and consciousness etc)
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Re: [SUGGESTION - LONG] Prison Politics

Postby dawgtanyan » Tue Oct 14, 2014 9:39 pm

I think making prisoners unpolitical at first would be fun, in game terms I guess it could work as a slowly building end game mechanic.

I have tried Paradox games as well. I really loved them but they make the economic historian in me twist a little inside, and they can also be frustratingly slow for a casual gamer like myself.
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Re: [SUGGESTION - LONG] Prison Politics

Postby Pallemaker » Wed Oct 15, 2014 12:40 pm

I love these ideas - well thought out. Though, as has been mentioned, it will probably be a hell of a job to (fully) implement.

There absolutely should be additional feedback from prisoners other than violence, destruction and (meaningless) riots. As of now the only reaction your prisoners have when you fail to meet their needs is getting angry, attacking staff/each other and breaking stuff. Other prisoner-actions such as the mentioned hunger strikes, work strikes and general (passive) disobedience (like refusing to go back to their cells) would be great.

Riots should (if not always) have some sort of goal, e.g. a collective prisoner demand. Perhaps we could also get to call in police negotiators from the emergency-tab to treat with prisoners? Of course you should still be able to send in your riot police/armed guards to put an end to the riot if that's the way you prefer to handle things.

You could also get input from the outside world on how they would like things to be handled - e.g. the governor and a human rights-organization calls you (the warden) giving their advice/demands on how the situation (riot/hunger strike/work strike) should be resolved. An example on how this could work in a riot:

- The "though on crime"-governor: Not giving in to the prisoners demands gives you an extra grant/giving in to their demands reduces or removes one of your grants.
- The human rights-organization: A bloody end to the riot (severe injuries or deaths) cause an increase in visitation by human rights lawyers and human rights-inspectors (would have to be implemented and could be somewhat similar to the V.I.P.-visitors/Health Inspectors of Theme Hospital) to your prison.
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Re: [SUGGESTION - LONG] Prison Politics

Postby dawgtanyan » Wed Oct 15, 2014 8:48 pm

I think aims in riots should be essential.

It become increasingly invalid to see riots as mindless in academia now, I have personnel experience their as well! They are far more directed dynamic events built up by smaller groups of people acting on a semi-organised basis and although again, that would be difficult to model even less political groups tend to at least be in it for both control and enjoyment (which is horrid but riots can often have a carnival atmosphere outside of the usually fairly short moment of extreme violence). I imagine prison riots would be different since they are enclosed but I imagine the dynamic of hiding in cells vs defensive organised fighting would likely be more prevalent.

It would also be great to see non-violent feedback. The nice thing about prison labor in this game is that if it was withdrawn it would certainly effect your prison in a direct way as well. It might be more difficult to model hunger strikes without interaction with some form of "outside" power though as well, though it could also create a major financial loss.
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Re: [SUGGESTION - LONG] Prison Politics

Postby RichieGrape » Thu Oct 16, 2014 3:11 am

dawgtanyan wrote:I think aims in riots should be essential.

yea i gotta say a riot doesn't really feel like a riot right now...currently fight breaks out in canteen...if it manages to get out of hand they kill your guards ....ok...they wreck the room ...ok...but then they end up just jumping around in that room doing nothing...

  • ok i get that some prisoners in a riot the worst they would do is run around destroying stuff (afraid of the consequences) but they wouldn't just stay in that one room after everything is destroyed...they would move to a new room to destroy stuff...
  • anyone with a high freedom need would most likely make an escape attempt (especially with your guards knocked out/dead on the floor of your canteen)...
  • some prisoners (maybe the cop killers) would specifically go seeking out guards/ex law to try to kill ...
  • your druggies would most likely try to raid your infirmary ...
  • Instigators would probably try to go after your door controllers..taking out the guard(from behind since hes watching the monitor not his back) then using the door controller to open all doors than smashing it so they can't just be reclosed(lets face it they are instigators who want the whole prison involved in the riot and the only way to do that is to open all the doors right?
right now a riot is only semi dangerous with the only problem with just letting the riot go on is the failure condition which i do like but you send in a few armed guards and its all over very quickly..its easy to stop the riot cause usually its contained in a single room and doesn't spread
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Re: [SUGGESTION - LONG] Prison Politics

Postby Pallemaker » Thu Oct 16, 2014 9:53 am

I would also like rioters to stop expanding their riot at some point, and rather defend the areas they hold. If the prisoners were able to take hostages (as suggested here), a standoff would be more likely and the way you handle the situation would matter more (I expect high fines for killed hostages).

Should you call in negotiators and accept (some of) the prisoners demands? Or should you just risk the hostages and rush in with riot police and armed guards? Or should you call in both and storm the cell-block while the riot-leaders are busy negotiating with the negotiators? I'm not suggesting making Prison SWAT Architect, but a tiny bit of tactics and strategy in handling of riots shouldn't hurt.
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Re: [SUGGESTION - LONG] Prison Politics

Postby dawgtanyan » Thu Oct 16, 2014 12:04 pm

The main point that annoyed me about riots was how easy they are to stop if they don't involve significant numbers. It is certainly true that many prisoners would not want to fight and might hide, but an equal minority would probably be fairly happy to at least rush guards who entered.

That is a mechanic which could probably be further helped by giving lights a basic purpose, cutting off electricity to a rioting area could prevent that etc.
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Pingy
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Re: [SUGGESTION - LONG] Prison Politics

Postby Pingy » Thu Oct 16, 2014 6:16 pm

Grwat idea but they'd really need to provide better multiprocessor support first though, I can hardly run with 250 prisoners with the current system, add in this complexity and ill be down to 100.
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Re: [SUGGESTION - LONG] Prison Politics

Postby snarst » Thu Oct 16, 2014 7:26 pm

In addition to prisoner behavior changing I think guard behavior needs to change as well.

Any protective custody prisoner should hide in their cells or try to make it back to their cell block and hide or if they know the way is blocked try and make it some secure area, preferably a staff only area or better yet, the security room. During this time snitches should also arm themselves but not attack guards, in fact even if you tell the guards to search a snitch in the cell block they should basically refuse because they have better things to do than take weapons away from the targets or a snitch cull.

In visitation prisoners and their family will not leave if the exit involves going through areas that are unsecured, otherwise the visitors will leave as fast as they can.

Guards the protective custody block (if all is fine) should mass at the entrance with their knight sticks/tasers/guns drawn since they know that a line of red and black shirts will be arriving soon and should only open the door if a protected prisoner makes it to the door and no one is about to break in, and even then the door should be opened and shut right away. Hell maybe ex law enforcement should stand right behind the guards if they have a weapon.

If a protective custody prisoner makes it to the door but their is a line of red and black shirts behind him he should either cheese it or if their is no escape the guards will randomly make a decision to let him in or not based on how close the mob is.

I also suggest the guards making barricades since 2-6 guards (depending on how many you put in that block) are not going to keep them back for long. Basically beds and whatnot are stacked up and the guards used the knight sticks extra reach/tasers to beat them back wile they tear apart the cades.

Any armed guards will be or course should be shooting regardless of free fire but are more prone to shouting rather than shooting,which should convince some of the rioters to abandon their snitch cull, once he starts though there is no going back and he's going to keep shooting till they all flee, are dead or unconscious. Once the prisoners make contact with the the phalanx of guards will will fall into an all out death match but if they feel like it the protected prisoners should help the guards since they're going to be fighting for their lives anyways.
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Re: [SUGGESTION - LONG] Prison Politics

Postby dawgtanyan » Thu Oct 16, 2014 7:59 pm

I think staff ai will be necessary to any advanced changes, one of the key problems in prisons has always been the fact guards can be nasty corrupt people paid enough to defend themselves and not much more.

I mean obviously they will need to stay effective to some degree just for the game to stay coherent. But they are infamous for being the main secondary that causes often "perfect" prison regimes to breakdown past organizing among prisoners.

I think i you wanted to add it as a bare minimum your point is a fantastic start though: reactive behavior + irregular corruption and unreliability + potentially uncontrolled brutality would likley be enough to make them a problem without recreating them as a second prison population to manage!
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Re: [SUGGESTION - LONG] Prison Politics

Postby Pingy » Fri Oct 17, 2014 12:15 am

I don't know, ever try telling a guard to chase someone down who made it out of the wall? They'll run right past them and ignore the escape attempt. Seems pretty crooked to me.

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