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How we need to prepare


Handling prisoners

After an event we will eventually hit a situation where we need to restrain someone. Either a convicted prisoner, someone accused of a crime, someone who is drunk or just someone whom we want to restrain for some reason. It is inevitable once we start expanding the numbers in our community. The problem will then be how poorly we have prepared for this. We will have no jail, no guard, no secure rooms and not have really thought it through. We don’t want to waste resources gearing up to restrain people short or long term although we think we would improvise for the short term easily enough.

Many will resolve this by deciding that they will just kill their prisoners but the reality is that in many cases it is just not going to work that way. Is your next door neighbour going to be happy that you executed their teenage son because he got drunk and was singing at 0200 for the third night in a row. It just isn’t going to be the way to build a community.

Sure people will be happy with punishments, even harsh punishments that would be unthinkable today, but after an event all bets are off and punishment will get harsher. I’m in the UK and I can assure you they can’t go any other way, for one thing there will not be any whingey whiney lawyers to make excuses for their behaviour, nobody is going to care what happened to them when they were children and punishments will have to be more immediate and not be dragged out over time. The stocks will be back for minor crimes, capital punishment for many serious crimes as well as imprisonment and work gangs for those in between. I’m not going to discuss Justice here as I’ve touched on this subject in ‘Looking to the Future – Justice‘ and although related this is about options on restraining people as punishment, while being disruptive and needing controlled or awaiting a court decision.

Note I have specified the reasons for restraining people. Anything else is you holding people against their will. You should end up in the same restraints for that.

Let us look at restraining prisoners first. As we have decided we are going to keep prisoners we have no option but to build a jail and lock people in it. Nothing fancy, basic room with a raised bed for somewhere to sleep. Toilet facilities will be a bucket in one corner. Somewhere to sit and a table to eat from would about do it. A solid secured door with bars for viewing and a side panel to pass items in and out is good. I’ve always looked at making a prison as a room with no doors or windows in the walls but instead with a hatch in the roof with a ladder in and out. That way one person can control several cells and the noise made trying to escape would enable the guard to sound the alarm. This way an old house can be converted to house several prisoners by sealing the doors and windows to the rooms, collapsing the roof to those rooms and putting bars in place. The guard can be in a room up the stairs. You can tell that I’m from an urban area and always looking at reuse.

Now restraining people who are disruptive or needing to be controlled is different. At this time we simply use cable ties or handcuffs to secure them. Around the wrists and with the wrists behind the back although there are several techniques for escaping from this they all require some time for the prisoner to execute the escape. These sort of restraints are OK for quickly securing prisoners that you can monitor but not for securing someone that you cannot monitor. Perhaps someone that you take as a prisoner in a raid whom you do not want to kill but they may not reciprocate that desire.

There are several ways that we can secure prisoners ranging from simply using rope, twine or similar but they are always slow to attach and need practise to be secure. Using cables ties and handcuffs are quick but they can quickly be bypassed with training. It seems that if we really want to go secure we need to use straps and buckles. A straitjacket is such a device although it is not quick to put on it is secure if it is put on correctly. Alternatively arm or wrist straps which can be quickly applied and which can be fastened and locked together are also good. These can also be applied to ankles and chained together with the wrist restraints.

Of course nothing is perfect and you should never leave prisoners restrained without supervision, or at the least checking on them regularly to stop them escaping as well as for their safety.

As an aside;
Under no circumstances restrain someone, gloat, tell them your master plan for taking over the universe and then leave them unguarded so some infernal device can terminate them in some fiendishly horrific way. Take my word, it never works out well.

7 comments to Handling prisoners

  • Skvez


    Re-using a house the way you describe is unlikely to work unless you find one with solid internal walls. Most houses internal walls can easily be kicked through. I also feel a single story (typically only 8 feet) would be insufficient, especially if they have a bed or table to stand on. I like the concept though, similar to the traditional ‘Oubliette’.

    Probably simpler to improvise would be a car. Weld bars over the windows and chain or bolt the doors closed (don’t rely on the vehicle locks). Don’t forget to secure the boot too.

  • fred

    Under no circumstances restrain someone, gloat, tell them your master plan for taking over the universe and then leave them unguarded so some infernal device can terminate them in some fiendishly horrific way. Take my word, it never works out well.

    Take your word? 😉

  • Skean Dhude


    Agreed. Most houses have solid outside walls though so the worst that will happen is they get into the next cell. However long before that the noise they make will alert the guard and he can react before they break through.

    The roof is bars remember. They may be able to reach them but they then have to undo the lock whilst the guard is there.

    I like the car option. There will be plenty of them about.


    Happens in all the best documentaries. I’ve seen them.

  • Skvez

    Yes they can get into the next cell but they can also get into the hall/stairwell where they can use the door the guard uses to leave the building.

  • Skean Dhude


    Good thinking. Now we need to make sure our chosen abode has solid walls or we need to reinforce the ones that lead to the hall.

  • Silent Storm

    A cellar or basement is usualy a good place to hold someone. No windows and only one door make it easy to guard.

  • Skean Dhude

    Silent Storm,

    That is what I thought but most houses don’t have a cellar or basement in the UK. So I simply moved up a floor and made some changes. It seems the simplest thing to do.

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