There’s been some dispute lately regarding a recent court case, Singer versus Raemisch, where an inmate in Wisconsin was banned from playing Dungeons and Dragons. I have to say, first of all, that I’m not a lawyer, but second, that uttering the phrase “I’m not a lawyer” requires me to offer my own silly wrong-headed opinion anyway.
The main issue for the prosecution in this case was, to my mind, that the prison’s expert on gang activity gave testimony that D&D could lead to gang activity. That testimony doesn’t seem to have been very convincing in and of itself – “it has a leader who judges rules and stipulates behavior,” which seems to have been the only justification given, does not a gang make. Nonetheless, none of the defense’s affidavits could directly contradict that testimony, so they ruled in favor of the prison. Thus, a logical route for future cases would be to gather information from prison officials who allow D&D as to why it does not necessarily lead to gang-related actions.
That being said, the stipulation that the prisoner’s D&D material, including his own campaign notes, be confiscated does seem above and beyond what was required, so I hope he finds some relief for this.
Overall, I think this is indicative of the restrictions that prison life in the United States places on inmates, which often gives great latitude to local administrators to set rules. Whether that justifies it or not is another matter.