Into the Abyss: Gangs and Prisons
to prison gangs in the United States of relationships in the already distrustful environment of an underground economy. and on the streets. The analysis presents a comparative model of prison and street gangs that organizational operations, and relationships with authority figures. Lastly, while street gangs experience an antagonistic relationship with law enforcement as a result of formal policies such as stop and frisk and informal policies.
We know a lot about how gang membership is correlated with prison misconduct, but there is no national estimate of the prevalence and frequency of gangs and gang members in incarcerated settings. A great deal of attention has been directed toward the importation of street culture into prison settings, but less is known about how prison culture in turn migrates into street settings.
Although vast, the literature on prison gangs and subculture is not nearly as extensive as the literature on street gangs and subculture due in part to the challenges associated with studying gang activity in prisons—access, scheduling, secrecy, codes, etc. There is little doubt that prison gangs are the source of considerable misconduct and present serious challenges to the management of prisons, which is why numerous strategies have been employed to control and suppress gang activity. This bibliography covers a range of topics on prison gangs and subculture, highlighting the resources and key contributions to the literature for policymakers, practitioners, researchers, and students to gain a better understanding of past, current, and anticipated trends.
General Overviews Contrary to the extensive amount of information available regarding street gangs, there is much less information available regarding prison gangs. Whereas the National Gang Center houses a great deal of information related to street gangs, their behaviors, and evaluations of gang responses, based on their annual surveys of law enforcement agencies, there is no such complementary site for prison gangs.
Moreover, there are only a handful of publications that comprehensively review the prison gang literature and make broad statements on the impact prison gangs have on the inmate subculture and prison operations. The book Crouch and Marquart traced the development of the Texas prison reform and documented the emergence of prison gangs. This book demonstrated how the changes in administrative policy that removed the building tender system resulted in the development of prison gangs and increased power granted to those members.
Camp and Camp conducted a national evaluation of state and federal prisons to determine the extent of prison gangs and to evaluate how prison officials identify and control gang members.
This research identified approximately gangs with over 12, inmates, noting that, membership in the gang was a result of street gang alliances prior to incarceration. Though the use of implicit and explicit rules to what degree and to address which situations may vary from group to group, Skarbek maintains that since codifying all rules is costly, prison gangs rely in great part, on the existence of implicit rules with values and norms forming a foundation from where informal governance begins.
Other social scientists such as Ellickson echo similar claims but with key distinctions.
- Prison gang
Ellickson states that close-knit groups rely heavily on specific norms and informal rules to achieve cooperation and to minimize transaction costs within governance institutions based on property rights. However, while Ellickson's work focuses on non-hierarchical examples, Skarbek's example considers a hierarchical system of prison gangs. Nevertheless, Skarbek maintains that norms that govern small communities can also govern illegal markets such as those operated by prison gangs.
Blue "Eme" is the Spanish name of the letter "M," and it is the 13th letter in the alphabet. The Mexican Mafia is composed mostly of Hispanics, although there are some Caucasian members.
The Mexican Mafia and the Aryan Brotherhood are allies. They work together to control prostitution, drug-running, weapons, and "hits" or murders. Eme was originally formed in the in the Deuel Vocational Institute. The gangs activities fall into two categories: Red family" in Spanish "N," the 14th letter in the alphabet, along with the Roman numeral "XIV" is the symbol Nuestra Familia is another mostly Hispanic prison gang that is constantly at war with La Eme.
Nuestro Familia was first established California's Soledad Prison in the s.
A mostly Texas-based prison gang that includes mostly Hispanic members and does albeit rarely allow Caucasian members. These commonly include Rollin' sets named after streets, i. The Black Guerilla Family represents an exception. It was originally a politically based group with a significant presence in prisons and prison politics. An African-American prison gang on the east coast. They are rivals with the Netas and have ties with the Black Guerilla Family. Founded in Washington D.
A primarily African-American gang that originated in the St. Charles, Illinois Youth Center outside Chicago. A white prison gang that originated in California's San Quentin Prison amongst white American prisoners in Its emblem, "the brand," consists of a shamrock and the number Other identifiers include the initials "AB," swastikas and the sigrune.
Since the s, in part because of this reputation, the AB has been targeted heavily by state and federal authorities. Many key AB members have been moved to "supermax" control-unit prisons at both the federal and state level or are under federal indictment.
A newer white prison gang that emerged after many Aryan Brotherhood members were sent to the Security Housing Unit at Pelican Bay or transferred to federal prisons. NLR is associated with members originally from the Antelope Valley and is known to accept some light-skinned or Caucasian-identified Hispanic members.
A white prison gang made up of inmates from Texas, and have a heavy presence in the federal prison system. Confederate Knights of America: A white supremacist prison gang concerned about race before money. A predominantly white prison gang founded in the Maryland Correctional System, with branches in many other correctional facilities throughout the U.
Aryan Brotherhood of Texas: Despite the similarity of the name, the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas A. Founded in Texas in the s the A. It was born in Johannesburg, and the leader of the Ninevites, "Nongoloza" Mathebula, is said to have created laws for the gang.
The Americans and the Firm, the two largest super gangs outside of prison made alliances with Numbers gangs.
They imported imagery, laws, and parts of the Numbers's initiation system. Membership in these gangs is not determined by race as it is with US prison gangs, however, initiation is still a costly and violent process, sometimes involving sexual hazing.
The 26s, 27s, 28s by means of robbery, murder, extortion, brigandage, of their own culture, their own religious beliefs create a tradition handed down from generation to generation, which continues to exist to this day. They are the historically illegal group of individuals who united in gangs with numeric values mentioned above.
They are formed a tradition located in South Africa and called South African criminal tradition originated in Southern Africa years ago according to the official history, and it differs from other traditions with the case that it came first in the wild and then in prison, because most of other criminal traditions originated inside the prison.
Differences from other gangs[ edit ] They have a special cult of Counter God which is called the Ninevites Special rules divided from the legend of Nongoloza Mathebula that set the rules of life of 26s, 27s and 28s They have a special cult of knife which they use as a form of punishment and execution.
There are two kind of knives: The short one is used for punishes and the long one is used for executions. They have a special combat system with a knife. They have a special language — sabela. Many gang members search out friends already in prison to ally themselves with so that it is not just the individual that a potential aggressor will pit himself against.
Rather it is a group of individuals that carry much more clout and power to harm than one person could ever possess. Thus the gangs that are supposedly broken down on the outside re-form within the walls of prison. GabrielA one-year study of over 82, federal inmates in the United States revealed that those who were embedded in gangs referred to as gang embeddedness were more likely to exhibit violent behavior and misconduct than those who were peripherally involved in gangs.
And those who were peripherally involved exhibited more violent behavior and misconduct than those who were unaffiliated. Which inmates eat at what times and where they sit in the dining hall, who gets the best or worst job assignments in the prison, who has money and nice clothes, who lives and who dies - all of these things, and others, are determined by gangs in the prison.
Their very presence requires special attention from prison authorities. A survey elicited information on prison gangs from representatives of adult state correctional institutions in the U. Intwo-thirds of the facilities had disciplinary rules that prohibited gang recruitment. About half of respondents believed that 'no human contact' inmate status [being placed in solitary] was ineffective in controlling gang members.
KnoxPrison staff, too, may be participants in or potential victims of the prison gang culture. As participants, they may be actively or passively involved. As active participants they may collude with inmate gang members by providing alibis, providing opportunities for the commission of certain crimes, or taking bribes or payment for their silence or other form of assistance.
As passive participants in prison gang activity they may simply "overlook" an incident or situation or neglect their duty just long enough for the gang members to do what it is that they wanted to do.
In either case, prison staff are not immune to the negative influence of prison gangs. As victims of gang activity they may be threatened, harassed, extorted, physically or sexually assaulted, or murdered. About one-sixth of the institutions reported that gang members had assaulted correctional staff members, and about half reported that gang members had threatened corrections officers.
Two-thirds of all institutions were providing gang training to their correctional officers by KnoxApproximatelyinmates were released from American prisons in the year Some of them were diehard gang members. Upon being discharged from prison when one's full sentence has been served or released early on paroleprison gang members move back into society. Unless they recant their gang membership, they are likely to continue their gang activity.
Prison Gangs and Subculture - Criminology - Oxford Bibliographies
Their impact on a community may be measured by their continued criminal activity, the harm they inflict upon their victims and their participation in already existing community-based gangs.
As you may know, there are both state prisons and federal prisons. Generally speaking, state prisons confine people who have been convicted of violating state law while federal prisons confine people who have been convicted of violating federal laws. As we will see in another section of Into the Abyss, several states and the federal government have enacted laws which enhance or lengthen the sentences of convicted gang members.
Not only are there gang members in prison, but due to their proven gang affiliation they are sometimes sentenced to longer prison terms. Given what's happening in most of America's prisons, the longer exposure may only make the problem worse.
What do prison gang members do? A federal prison administrator told me "Gangs exist everywhere in prisons. Whether they are a force in the prison or not is up to the administration of that prison. In low security facilities there are few gang members and they have little influence.
It's a different matter in the high security prisons. And drugs and gangs are in nearly every prison. Protection is also there.
They are the two primary rackets operated by gang inmates [drugs and protection]. Some cells are designated by inmates as being for Caucasian inmates while others are designated for African-Americans, Hispanics, Asians, and so on.
Cell residents may be taxed because the cells are far from the security stations at the end of the cellblock. I was told that "The dope heads drug users like to be away from the security folks. Some cells are closer to the TV than others and that may cause a cell tax to be imposed. Some prisons have rooms set aside for the sole purpose of television viewing. In one prison I visited, the administrator said "We have several TV rooms and all but one of them is owned by the blacks.
Only certain blacks, depending on their gang affiliation, can use certain rooms unless there's some popular athletic event being shown - then all of them cram in to watch. An inmate wrote "Now-a-days everything in these places is so screwed up because of all the gang bangers in these places.
Everything is very segregated which is just fine in my point of view. But there's a twist. The twist may be best explained using an analogy. Do you remember a game called Rock, Scissors, Paper? It's a game kids play using hand signs. Each player chooses rock, scissors, or paper without telling the other players their choice. Then each child displays their chosen hand sign at the same time. Rock is symbolized by a clenched fist and rock beats scissors. Paper is shown by holding out an open hand with fingers all touching side by side.
If we stop the game there I can use this as an analogy that helps describe the gang situation in prison. In the analogy "rock" is race or ethnicity, "scissors" is a gang, and "paper" is an inmate who is not gang affiliated. Inmates who are not affiliated with a gang are often in peril in a prison setting. They have no one who will come to their aid if they are assaulted or extorted and no one who will join them in retaliation. There are a few exceptions to this rule. The exceptions include inmates who have organized crime connections on the outside, and those who are knowledgeable about the law and may, therefore, be valued for their ability to help other inmates write legal briefs for their appeals.
There are other inmates who are basically left alone because they are seriously ill or very old, and inmates who are so physically powerful or out of their minds that few inmates will assault them. Most inmates, however, are vulnerable. In our analogy the next class of inmates are the gang members - scissors.
They assault non-gang members - those who are "paper" in our analogy, and rival gang members. According to one federal prison administrator, "About one-third of my prison's one thousand seven hundred inmates are not in a gang.
The unaffiliated are often extorted by gang inmates and used in other ways. That is, African-American inmates who are Crips, Bloods, Black Gangster Disciples, or whatever their name, are faced with a new enemy - groups of non-African-Americans. In most instances this means they need protection from Caucasian, Asian, and Hispanic inmates in the prison.
According to another federal prison administrator, "Among the federal inmates who are gang members, being a Crip or a Blood sometimes doesn't matter when they are confronted as blacks by Hispanic and other ethnic gangs. The conflict between these ethnic or racial groups seems to bring the black gangs together - putting aside any differences they may have had on the street. The hatred fostered by various racial and ethnic groups against one another can drive previously conflicting gangs and their members together in the prison setting.
Solidarity occurs in the face of the larger threat to their well being. According to a long time administrator in the federal prison system, "There's a split in the federal prisons among the blacks.