Wisconsin Court Forbids Prison Inmates from Playing Dungeons & Dragons


Nerds behind bars.The Volokh Conspiracy illuminates this tragic first-world problem.

In a decision issued today, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld a Wisconsin prison’s rule forbidding inmates to play Dungeons & Dragons or possess D&D publications and materials [HT: Josh Blackman].

The prison’s rationale for the ban is that playing D&D might stimulate “gang activity” by inmates. But the government conceded that there is no evidence that Dungeons and Dragons actually had stimulated gang activity in the past, either in this prison or elsewhere. The only evidence for the supposedly harmful effects of Dungeons and Dragons were a few cases from other states where playing the game supposedly led inmates to indulge in “escapism” and become divorced from reality, one case where two non-inmates committed a crime in which they “acted out” a D&D story-line, and one where a longtime D&D player (not an inmate) committed suicide. Obviously, almost any hobby or reading material might lead people to become divorced from reality, or in rare cases commit suicide. And disturbed individuals could potentially “act out” a crime based on a scenario in almost any film or literary work. Should prisons ban The Count of Monte Cristo on the grounds that it might encourage escape attempts? Moreover, the “escapism” rationale conflicts with the gang argument. People who become engrossed in escapism and retreat from society are presumably less likely to become active gang members.

4 Comments on "Wisconsin Court Forbids Prison Inmates from Playing Dungeons & Dragons"

  1. “Nerds behind bars… tragic first-world problem.”


  2. This is insane…

  3. Not quite as scary as the Mexican Maffia or the Arian brotherhood. No offence Wisconsinites but you need new judges god thats dumb.

  4. Word Eater | Jan 27, 2010 at 9:04 pm |

    At least they can still play “World of Darkness”

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