Prison Architect Wiki

Riots are one of the main forms of an emergency event. It is where a violent disturbance of the peace caused by a large mass of misbehaving prisoners occurs.


The onset of a riot may be triggered by many factors but all will be, in some way, associated with your prisoners' happiness, well-being and your prison's danger level.

The main cause of a riot are when the needs of your prisoners are left unsatisfied for an over-extended period of time. Prisoners will verbalise the fact that their needs are being neglected through complaints, general misconduct or inattentiveness during reform programs.

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As more prisoners become disgruntled due to being neglected, your facility's danger level will begin to rise. This is indicated by the coloured '!' marks. After a while, a large number of your prisoners will simultaneously begin to cause trouble, until a riot officially begins. More specifically, a riot will only occur where:

  • there are 10 or more prisoners rioting at once. (4 in console) 
  • the danger level/temperature level of your prison is at 33% or above.

You, as the player, will immediately be notified of a riot as a large banner displayed across the screen will read: 'RIOT UNDERWAY' and will detail how many inmates are actively participating in said riot.

Further triggers may include:

  • The presence of one or more prisoners with endangering reputations, e.g. snitch, which triggers a mass-onslaught thus leading to a riot.
  • The simultaneous, unwarranted outbreak of prisoners with volatile reputations.
  • If the leader of a very large gang is killed, and the gang members become simultaneously violent.
  • If a gang member is attacked, and a large quantity of fellow gang members are nearby.

Operation & Objectives[]


Although they may appear disorganized and chaotic, riots and their participants actually have several methodical objectives and aims. These include:

  • General insurrection.
  • Commandeering of prison rooms.
  • Assassination of administrative heads, e.g. the Warden.
  • Usurpation of any onsite armouries.
  • Slaughtering of any prisoners with endangering reputations.

As aforementioned, rioting prisoners will attempt to commandeer the rooms of your facility by force. Captured rooms will turn a dark red colour, indicating they have been commandeered by the rebelling inmates. General staff and security personnel including: guards, dog handlers, guard dogs and snipers will not enter captured rooms in fear of their lives. However, armed guards will fearlessly enter these areas and confront any rioting inmates inside. It is therefore wise to utilise these security staff members as best as possible.

NOTE: Security staff will still attempt to subdue rioting prisoners, but only those which are outside, i.e. not in any captured rooms.


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Ultimately, riots are not something beneficial to a prison and the sooner they are stopped; the better. There are two main methods that can be used to quell a riot. These include:

  • Subduing most, or all, rioting prisoners to reduce the participant count and deplete riot power. This can be achieved by externally hiring riot guards.
  • Causing a mass-surrender of rioting prisoners by authorising armed guards to discharge their weapons and restore order.

If both of these methods are unsuccessful, or the riot is too powerful, the government will enforce a warning giving you a time limit in which you must stop the riot. If you fail to quell the riot within the given time frame, it will be game over. The government will take legal control of the facility, therefore making you redundant, and will deploy the national guard - expertly trained soldiers armed with assault rifles which will take the prison back through lethal, unprecedented force.

However, if you, as the player, manage to quell the riot successfully, any and all dead bodies will be moved to hearses, injured personnel and prisoners will retreat to an infirmary and any contraband, i.e. weaponry, dropped by a rioting prisoner will be seized and dumped.

NOTE: It is perhaps unwise to authorised armed guards to freefire if failure conditions are enabled. Too many prisoner deaths will result in failure.

Preventative Measures[]

  • It is paramount that your armoury is heavily protected as rioting prisoners will almost certainly target this room to acquire weaponry which will make them, and the overall riot, much harder to stop.
  • Hire armed guards which will naturally exert a suppression effect onto nearby prisoners, thus reducing the likelihood of a riot ever happening.
  • Assign guards to patrols in and around office areas where administrative staff are working. These members will be targeted by rioting prisoners. If they are killed, all the research that comes with them will be lost. For example, if the Chief is killed, you will lose access to the danger level report.
  • Install Guard Towers around your facility. Like armed guards, snipers can spread a massive suppression effect over prisoners. Furthermore, if a sniper discharges their weapon, any and all prisoners in close proximity will immediately surrender.
  • Armed guard icon.png
    Keep your prisoners happy and their needs satisfied. This will heavily reduce the chance of a riot.


During a riot, prisoners will eventually attempt to escape. They can do this with ease if they manage to overpower a guard and steal his keys. Therefore it is recommended to lockdown your prison to prevent prisoners from escaping this way.

It is also advised to activate the Bangup emergency command. This will segregate non-rioting prisoners in their cells and reduce the chances of them also participating in the riot, thus make it easier to deal with the prisoners who are rioting.

Attempt to flank rioting prisoners with squadrons of riot guards. Furthermore, hire paramedics and keep them close to your riot and armed guards so they can be instantly healed if injured.


  • Prisoners may light fires if they obtain a lighter during a riot. Be ready to call the Fire Brigade.
  • Only armed guards, riot guards and elite ops will enter captured rooms.
  • Outdoor rooms, e.g. yards, cannot be captured during a riot.
  • Rioting prisoners will repetitively bounce up and down with their fists balled.
  • Staff members near to a rioting prisoner will flee.
  • In the third chapter of the prison stories campaign, Douglas Benedict ring-led a large scale riot at Alchemico State Prison.
  • Animation credit to: RGeezy911.