“2 inmates dead in Tecumseh [Nebraska] prison rioting”

Photo credit: Ryan Soderlin/The World-Herald

Photo credit: Ryan Soderlin/The World-Herald

Thus reports the Lincoln paper.  The Omaha paper has a similar report.

The rioting took place Sunday at the prison which houses about 1,008 men, just slightly over the design capacity. Inmates allegedly controlled two of the three general population housing units for a time. The housing unit for death row inmates was apparently not involved. Control of the prison has apparently been retaken by correctional authorities and law enforcement.


6 responses

  1. I am reminded of a fascinating interview I listened to recently on the topic of prison gangs and how they came to be in the latter half of the 20th century.

    The author’s thesis was that the very large size of American prisons led to gangs taking the place of informal codes of conduct among prisoners, because above a certain size, remembering who did what became impossible.


    I wonder what the social structure among the inmates at that prison was prior to the riot.

  2. Peter H.,

    Interesting. But, I think prison gangs arose first in the hoods and in biker bars and then migrated to the prisons. And I wonder whether the “above a certain size” has some empirical foundation. Specifically, how small does a prison have to be to avoid gangs defining the social code of the prison?

    All the best.


  3. Peter H.,

    Re question about the social structure among inmates at Tecumseh prior to the riot, here is one response:

    Inmate Daryl Eskridge said the disturbance broke out after repeated attempts to get prison officials to address grievances.

    “‘This is not a white thing, a black thing, Eskridge said in the phone call [during the riot] from the housing unit [that he and others had taken over]. ‘This is a people thing. . . . We understand this is a prison, but we have been subjected to a lot of things the department doesn’t want people to see.'” Lincoln JournalStar.

    All the best.


    PS Each year, our pro se law clerk typically organizes an indepth tour of Tecumseh for interested law clerks from any of the chambers in Omaha and Lincoln. Death row is included. Obviously, no such tour this year.

  4. The article makes for very interesting reading. The inmates’ specific complaints seem tied to jobs, which equate to time outside the cell, and to yard time.

    I wonder if the prison were smaller, if those issues would have become less acute.

    I also recognize that the prisoners may be lying, or just strongly coloring the truth to give the most palatable reasoning.

  5. Peter H.,

    The Omaha World-Herald, based upon a press conference given by the new head of Nebraska’s prison system, had published an article entitled “Official: 2 inmates found dead at Tecumseh prison apparently killed by other prisoners”.

    That headline has now been pulled. I’m not sure why.

    I listened to the interview, and the head of corrections did say, “Two inmates died. Cause of death unknown at this time however appears to be caused by other inmates.” (I am not a transcriptionist, but this is what I heard on the video.) You can view the video of the press conference yourself and listen to it as well here.

    All the best.


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