What is it like to be a prisoner? Activity #2

Activity Description

A role playing game will be carried out amongst the Emissaries inspired by the Stanford Prison Experiment that demonstrates how the rigid power structure of the prison environment makes the prisoners and guards to behave in a hostile and aggressive manner.

How to play

  1. Gather the students in a large outdoor area and divide them into two groups - the “cops and robbers”
  2. The robbers will have 40 seconds to hide and after the 40 second mark, cops will be running around catching the robbers
  3. Once the robbers are tagged, they will be imprisoned in a small area marked with masking tape and will not be allowed to cross the line
  4. Meanwhile, the police will be allowed to freely do anything they want
  5. The police will be given the power to create and enforce any rules (although the staff would be monitoring this) they think would help them control the prisoners.

After the game is over, students will reflect and discuss their thoughts, feelings and behaviours together. They will then have the choice, during their free time, whether they would like to watch the aforementioned film or entertain themselves.

Some Guiding Questions:

  • What kinds of emotions were going through you when you were the police/prisoner?
  • What kinds of behaviors did the emotions provoke you to do?
  • How can we prevent brutality amongst guards and criminals?


Created with images by Tama66 - "lost places window grid" • @mist3ry30 - "Prison" • dogbomb - "Tall Prison Fence" • Unsplash - "chainlink fence metal" • blondinrikard - "Capitol movie theatre"

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