News Article
February 4, 2019

New Website Launches, Documenting a Decade of Prisoner Protests

Perilous Chronicle, a crowdsourced timeline documenting prisoner uprisings
Clarification: Perilous Chronicle is independent from IWOC, though our projects are complementary and adjacent to one another. IWOC endorses Perilous Chronicle and encourages this tracking project that brings visibility to prisoner protests.


New Website Launches, Documenting a Decade of Prisoner Protests


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February 4, 2019, FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: A new online timeline tool launched today to document prisoner protests, rebellions, and collective actions from 2010 to the present. The project, titled Perilous: A Chronicle of Prisoner Unrest Across U.S. and Canada, is gathering and tracking information on prison uprisings, riots, protests, strikes, and other disturbances within public and private jails, prisons, and detention centers across the continent. At launch time they have recorded approximately 200 instances of prisoner unrest over the past 9 years, highlighting the growing crisis within the U.S. system of incarceration. In 2018 alone, the project has documented 61 instances of collective action ranging from hunger strikes to work stoppages to uprisings.


The online timeline tool is being launched in the wake of one of the largest coordinated national prisoner protests in U.S. history. In both 2016 and 2018, prisoners across several states organized protests and other actions around a call to "end prison slavery." This new project is meant to help contextualize these historic prisoner-led actions. Dr. Heather Ann Thompson, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Blood in the Water: The Attica Prison Uprising of 1971 and its Legacy, describes the importance of the project, saying that "From these [prisoner] uprisings we learn so much about justice and injustice in this country as well as about power. And yet, because prisons are deliberately so closed to the public, and routinely resist accountability to that same public, we know far less than we need to about the times when people stand up for better conditions on the inside."

Dr. Dan Berger, author of Captive Nation: Black Prison Organizing in the Civil Rights Era, also emphasized the timeliness of the project, saying that "Perilous Chronicle provides an accessible account of this wave of urgent protest. Deeply researched, impressively organized, and sorely needed, this timeline brings together the wide array of actions that have happened across the United States and Canada. It is a vital resource for journalists, teachers, students, and anyone else looking to understand the scale of protest emanating from inside the awful world of confinement."

The project intends to make information on past prisoner protests more widely available for journalists, activists, and researchers, as well as to be an up-to-date news source on prisoner unrest. According to their website, Perilous "[s] to contribute to the growing conversation around incarceration" and to offer "a centralized timeline of prisoner protests that circumvents the sporadic, inconsistent, and unreliable reporting practices of prison administrations. Because prison disturbances are often extremely sensationalized or ignored altogether by media outlets, Perilous seeks to document and better capture the scope of prisoner protests. More uprisings will be added to the timeline as the project team learns about past actions or as more information is made available to the public."


Perilous is a crowdsourced research project that will continue to grow and become more comprehensive as prisoners, family members, and other researchers help to fill in the gaps in the timeline. Anyone can contribute events and information to the project and the Perilous team will work to substantiate the submissions before including them on the site.


Through the centralized online platform and timeline tool, the project provides specific examples of how prisoners respond to their confinement and the conditions thereof. In this way, Periloushopes to enrich the ongoing debates about the prison system by better including the collective actions of those most directly impacted- the prisoners themselves.


You can visit the website here:

And you can read the full endorsements from Dr. Thompson and Dr. Berger on the website here: