Well, we wondered too, and after some research, we are still confused. Private prisons have a plan and post the fact that they have a plan. The problem is that they don’t state what the plan actually is.
There are a number of forums, with questions about this and some share with the forums what they think the plans should be. The perspectives or opinions if you will are just that, people’s opinions.
A popular solution presented by those not affiliated with prisons is to keep them locked up, in particular the more dangerous ones. Some, however, do agree that the non-violent ones should be released.
One contributor to a forum provided extensive details about what would happen based on the information provided to them by a relative that used to work for a prison system decades ago.
We are paraphrasing here, but you will get the gist. “Essentially, it was up to the warden”. The relative who supposedly worked for the prison also revealed that the “murderers and rapist and others of their ilk” would be summarily executed, and the rest either released or left to their own devices while the prison staff saved themselves.
This plan came up several times during research, and thus we concluded that the plan is not an official plan at all, and is probably one that guards toss around (some may even day dream about) when they had nothing better to do.
No doubt there are plans, but they would obviously depend on the guards and administrators staying put to implement said plans. Once the SHTF and it hit it big, the guards and other officials may do what they need to do to save their families and themselves, which would not involve making sure prisoners are fed three squares a day.
It is logical to assume that guards, like us, would have families, homes, and possessions, so why would they stick around to care for prisoners when their families and homes are in jeopardy.
Prisons would have backup power, food supplies, water, and other emergency essentials, so a short-term crisis could be handled. What happens, though, when days and weeks go by, such as was the case during Hurricane Katrina.
According to Human Rights Watch, prisoners were abandoned by officers running the jails in New Orleans during Katrina. Some inmates, according to the report drowned in their cells. Interviews afterward were contradictory, but this is to be expected. The inmates told one story while the authorities told another. To this day, it is not clear whom or how many may have drowned, if any at all did, and who may have ordered and conducted the eventual evacuation of the jails (Human Rights Watch, 2005).
In other countries, the prisoners take over during a crisis, because the fact is the only thing between the prisoners and the outside of the walls are the guards and electronic devices. Once removed the prisoners would eventually find a way out if they didn’t succumb to dehydration first and if they could work together.
When warfare strikes a city in some countries the guards flee and the prisoners take over, and of course eventually flee into the local population creating havoc in their search for food, water, and weapons.
Family members may in some cases show up to help, however, this seems a bit of a stretch, but it is possible.
Prisoners could and would get loose if a major catastrophe struck this nation. For localized disasters, the National Guard would be used and if the crisis extended across several states Martial law may be imposed and then Federal Troops would lend a hand.
Once again, however, it all depends on people. Troops, like prison guards, would have families, and so just how far they would go to do their duty while their family was in harm’s way remains to be seen. This means that communities with prisons close by may have more than just the crisis to contend with, because the prisoners will get out, not all will, but enough to create a crisis in and of itself in some communities.
We end up back at the original question. We don’t really know what would happen to them. There are plans, but they are not put out for public discussion apparently, only those that need to know do know, but for those of you that live near prisons and jails, it is something to contemplate during a major disaster.
Human Rights Watch. (2005). Retrieved 2016, from https://www.hrw.org/news/2005/09/21/new-orleans-prisoners-abandoned-floodwaters