Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Dungeon inmates forbidden to play in simulated dungeons

The Seventh Circuit (h/t Somin) has upheld a prison ban on Dungeons & Dragons. Another urgent amendment to the Constitution is needed!
After concluding that the popular role-playing game Dungeons and Dragons (“D&D”) represented a threat to prison security, officials at Wisconsin’s Waupun Correctional Institution took action to eradicate D&D within the prison’s walls. Inmate Kevin T. Singer found himself on the front lines of Waupun’s war on D&D when prison officials confiscated a large quantity of D&D-related publications from his cell. * * *

Singer’s devotion to D&D was unwavering during his incarceration at Waupun. He frequently ordered D&D publications and game materials by mail and had them
delivered to his cell. Singer was able to order and possess his D&D materials without incident from June 2002 until November 2004. This all changed on or about November 14, 2004, when 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.” * * *

In a December 6, 2004 letter to Singer, Muraski informed Singer that “inmates are not allowed to engage in or possess written material that details rules, codes, dogma of games/activities such as ‘Dungeons and Dragons’ because it promotes fantasy role playing, competitive hostility, violence, addictive escape behaviors, and possible gambling.”
Muraski clearly is what Bugs Bunny used to call a "maroon."

Unfortunately, Singer failed to present any evidence from experts in prison security, let alone sufficient such evidence to discredit the prison's "rational basis" for relying on Muraski's opinion. And it's evident the judges had only a faint grasp of what D&D is. Just goes to show the importance of diversity on the bench. To marshal only one famous recent quotation,
Which just goes to the importance of diversity. I would hope that a wise half-elf with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn’t lived that life.
Will Obama's judicial appointments redress the deficiency of D&D-playing jurists? I would expect some Republican holds and filibusters, though the confirmation hearings would be priceless.


  1. The "addictive escape behaviors" must have been the real concern here. Imates just might be learning something from those spell books after all.

  2. What does that even mean, really? Inmates might become "addicted" to a pleasant sensation of removal from their, um, dungeon-like surroundings?