No More Dragons

by by Marguerite Preston

In 2004 Captain Bruce Muraski of Wisconsin’s Waupun Correctional Institution received a worrisome letter from an
anonymous inmate. As the prison’s Disruptive Group Coordinator, it is Muraski’s job to monitor and prevent any gang activity. So when he learned that Kevin T. Singer and three other inmates had formed a group, and were passing out publications
to recruit new members, he decided to act. Prison officials searched the inmates’ cells and confiscated all materials related to
the group. That was the end of Singer’s game of Dungeons and Dragons.
Singer, according to court documents, had been a “devoted player of D&D” since childhood. In 2002 he was sentenced
to life in prison after stabbing his sister’s boyfriend and bludgeoning him to death with a sledgehammer. Yet the real-life
dungeon hasn’t dampened his enthusiasm for the game. He formed the group and continued to play, having D&D publications mailed to his cell. When officials searched Singer’s cell they confiscated 21 books and 14 magazines, plus his 96-page
handwritten manuscript detailing the specif c settings and fictional locations of his D&D campaign.
In response, Singer sued prison officials for what he claimed was a violation of his right to free speech and due process.
Recently, however, the court ruled against him. It sided instead with Muraski, who told the court that a game like D&D
“promotes fantasy role playing, competitive hostility, violence, addictive escape behaviors, and possible gambling.” It could,
he argued, foster hostility and “an inmate’s obsession with escaping real life,” which could compromise the prison’s goal of
“rehabilitation.” Furthermore, argued the court in its final ruling, it’s within the basic purpose of prison to “punish inmates
by preventing them from participating in some of their favorite recreations.”