Dungeons and Dragons: just another recruitment platform for gangs.

Sometimes, I see something that just kinda makes me go “Bwuh?”. Usually it comes out of the US, and usually it’s legal. This one, though, I think is trying to set some kind of all-time record. Kevin Singer likes his D and D. Apparently, he got together a bit of an innmate following for it and well, called it a distraction or something, I guess. Everything was going swimmingly–right up to the point where one innmate who probably wasn’t a D and D fan said that god aweful g-word. Then, out came the lawyers.

Basically, a guy who is serving a life sentence for murder, Kevin Singer, was apparently an avid D&D player as well, and had a collection of D&D books and related paraphernalia. However, it was confiscated by the prison after another prisoner complained that Singer was building a “gang” around D&D.

…Waupun’s long-serving Disruptive Group Coordinator, Captain Bruce Muraski, received an anonymous letter from an inmate. The letter expressed concern that Singer and three other inmates were forming a D&D gang and were trying to recruit others to join by passing around their D&D publications and touting the “rush” they got from playing the game. Muraski, Waupun’s expert on gang activity, decided to heed the letter’s advice and “check into this gang before it gets out of hand.”

Singer and the other prisoners named in the letter filed a complaint about the confiscation, and then a lawsuit. Singer got numerous experts to explain that D&D is not related to gang activity. The court claims that some of those experts actually claimed otherwise, but the interpretation here is fuzzy. The court says that these experts disagreed with Singer’s assertions because they claimed that D&D could keep people away from gang activity, and thus it’s “connected” to gang activity. I can’t see how this makes any sense at all. By that reasoning anything that someone does that keeps them away from joining a gang is automatically considered, itself, a gang activity. How does that make sense?

As always, an awesome question posed by the Techdirt authors. Taking it a step farther, how in the 7 levels of hell is a role playing game, and one that’s been around probably since before there were much more creative ways of recruiting folks to join any kind of gang, in any way, shape, or form related to gang activity? I think I missed that transition somewhere in all the WTF. They try to explain themselves below.

Muraski elaborated that during D&D games, one player is denoted the “Dungeon Master.” The Dungeon Master is tasked with giving directions to other players, which Muraski testified mimics the organization of a gang. At bottom, his testimony about this policy aim highlighted Waupun’s worries about cooperative activity among inmates, particularly that carried out in an organized, hierarchical fashion. Muraski’s second asserted governmental interest in the D&D ban was inmate rehabilitation. He testified that D&D can “foster an inmate’s obsession with escaping from the real life, correctional environment, fostering hostility, violence and escape behavior,” which in turn “can compromise not only the inmate’s rehabilitation and effects of positive programming but also endanger the public and jeopardize the safety and security of the institution.”

So let me see if I follow. Group activities in which there’s any kind of order/structure constitutes gang activity. Possessing an imagination constitutes the potential to escape from the facility, and/or potential gang activity. Put them together and you’ve got one hell of a danger to the public. Hence, ban D and D. Really? And I was always told an imagination was a good thing. Clearly, not if you’re doing time in this jurisdiction. Somebody obviously has absolutely no geek skill whatsoever.

1 comment
  1. So since i’m a law-abiding citizen who thinks sometimes and who has and probably will again be a member of a group, I’ll be down at the police station turning myself in if anybody needs me. It’ll be good to get another gang member off the streets.

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