The first Mock Prison Riot was held on the grounds of the decommissioned West Virginia Penitentiary in Moundsville in 1997 and was executed as part of a federal program known as the Office of Law Enforcement Technology Commercialization (OLETC). OLETC was launched in late 1994 as a program of the United States Department of Justice (DOJ), National Institute of Justice (NIJ), Office of Justice Programs (OJP). Based in Wheeling, West Virginia, OLETC was funded by a 10-year earmark from a local Congressman.
In its present form, the Mock Prison Riot is a four-day comprehensive law enforcement and corrections tactical and technology tradeshow, including 44,000 square feet of exhibit space, training scenarios, technology demonstrations, certification and other workshops, a Skills Competition, and unlimited opportunities for feedback, networking, and camaraderie on a global scale. What sets the Mock Prison Riot apart from other industry events is the opportunity for practitioners and developers to actually see, touch, deploy, and offer immediate feedback on technologies under realistic conditions.
OLETC’s initial mission was to develop and deploy an active, broad-based national program to assist in the commercialization of innovative technology for use by the law enforcement and corrections (LEC) community. OLETC’s primary goal was to help bring technology solutions to market for LEC practitioners within a six- to 18-month time period, in most cases. To achieve this goal, OLETC staff assisted technology developers with several aspects of the technology commercialization process, including: opportunities for deployment, demonstration, and evaluation; education regarding intellectual property issues, licensing, and negotiations; research/evaluation of the LEC market; and partnerships/alliances for purposes of research, development, and manufacturing.
The Mock Prison Riot was born from OLETC’s practice of deploying, demonstrating, and evaluating emerging and existing law enforcement and corrections technologies, as directed by the NIJ. Technology developers and practitioners were brought together, en masse, once a year at the decommissioned WV Penitentiary in Moundsville during the Mock Prison Riot to deploy products in demonstrations and tactical scenarios, thereby garnering immediate and formal feedback and saving time and money in the product development cycle. Over the years, there has been no other means, especially for the corrections industry, for such activities to take place.
Although federal funding cuts eventually claimed all other services of the OLETC program, the Mock Prison Riot itself remained a vibrant, productive, successful, and world-renowned event for demonstrating and evaluating emerging and existing law enforcement and corrections technologies.
In January of 2011, the NIJ announced that it would be eliminating funding entirely for the Mock Prison Riot. Soon thereafter, officials from the West Virginia Division of Corrections and Rehabilitation initiated discussions to explore transference of the Mock Prison Riot to its auspices. The West Virginia Corrections Training Foundation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation, now doing business as the Worldwide Corrections Training Foundation, was created to assist, and the 2012 event marked the first Mock Prison Riot held under the auspices of the two entities.
The WV DCR and the Worldwide Corrections Training Foundation intend to carry on the long-standing tradition of the Mock Prison Riot for many years to come. Both organizations are committed to providing practitioners from around the United States and the world with realistic training conditions and opportunities to see, touch, deploy, and evaluate the newest emerging and existing technologies available.