Jail expert witness Richard Lichten gives an inside view on the causes of jail and prison riots:
Of course over crowding adds to the problem. It adds to the stress the inmates feel. It means fewer inmates can get the proper health care they need, and there are fewer opportunities for the inmates to attend school, etc. You get the picture. Over crowding places heavy burdens on the staff as well. It is a serious matter. But there is so much more going on in a riot.
This is what I can tell you about jail and prison riots based on my training, knowledge, and experience. Please know that I do not differentiate between jail and prison. It is not necessary that I do so.
Whenever you place criminals together in jail, they are going to fight one another at some point. For the most part, people in jail are mean, ugly, violent people who have very little regard for others. Not all of them, but most of them. A great number of inmates in jail and prison will fight and damage they can.