As part of a project for college we have to come up with an instrument for minimising risk for parolees, both in and out of prison. To that end we have to identify static (something the inmate can't change like past history or age) and dynamic (something preventable or changeable) variables and come up with methods to minimise impact. The dynamic variable I'm mostly concentrating on is gang membership.
So I figured I'd throw it out into a nice moral discussion and see what points people come up with. The question I want to ask is basically "how do you think gangs should be controlled/maintained in prison?". Some starting points - is it justifiable to throw a prisoner in isolation simply for being a gang member? Should prisoners be classified on gang risk (IE whether they're violent and aggressive, or whether they're weak and passive and may seek out gang membership as protection)? Are gangs even potentially beneficial to the prison system?
Discuss, and so on.
Prison Gangs (aka do my college work for me)
Lukus 18,946 posts
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Pump 'Ebony and Ivory' through the tannoy system, 24 hours a day.
Dirtbox 75,981 posts
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The only benefit of gangs that I can see is due to the fact they're saving the prison system a little money by self policing.
The massive downside being that the members of the gangs will more often than not be in a criminal fraternity for the rest of their lives and rarely, if ever become productive members of society afterwards. The classic problem with the US prison system is that time spent has little to do with rehabilitation.
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mal 21,677 posts
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Oh, I was imagining a chain gang writing meme's essays for him (rather than us
I think you need to define what a gang is first. Is it just a collection of people? Is it a collection of people with ill intent? Is it effectively a protection racket funding a small group of people?
I'm assuming it's not the former. If it's the latter, then it would be right to put the ringleaders in isolation, but many members of the scheme would simply be victims in this arrangement. If it's the middle option, then morally it's tricky to punish people before they've offended, although AIUI conspiring it generally considered dodgy behaviour by prison authorities as is.
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kickerconspiracy 495 posts
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If we're talking about an American context aren't pretty much all gangs divided along racial lines?
smoothpete 30,902 posts
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I think it would be nice if there was a white gang who weren't Nazis.
Thanks for the thoughts so far. Mal, a prison gang can literally be all three, but generally speaking it's a group of inmates who recruit members who suit their ideologies (and ultimately connect to organised crime outside of prison too, as deebs says). And yes, the vast majority of prison gangs are racial in nature. Though it seems like pete is looking for the Dirty White Boys, who don't have any supremacy views though are still just "whites only". Apparently they even have a group in Idaho State prison.
EDIT: Oh, or there's the Texas Mafia who are a non-violent, non-racial gang concentrating solely on making profit from drugs. There's even a Jewish gang called (I shit you not) Kosher Nostra.
Edited by meme at 21:57:28 28-11-2012
mcmothercruncher 5,421 posts
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DROPPING SOAP JOKE ETC HERE!
I just finished writing a dissertation on Supermax prisons in the american penal system for my archaeology degree and have given you an article by David Skarbek (2012) which I found very useful.
He likens prison gangs to prehistoric early societies. Early prison gangs formed during the 1960's and 1970's along racial lines,as a response to the removal of corporal punishment powers from administrative as a result of the civil rights movement. This coupled with a rapid increase in the inmate population across America resulted in inmate groups bonding together into associations in order to secure resources that were dwindling due to increased numbers. Once an association builds to a sufficient size in that becomes predatory in nature and uses it's resources and influence in order to manipulate inmate contraband markets which are the source of inmate prestige. This stuff follows on from the work of Kalinich(1977) and Kalinich and Stojobick(1982)
This journal paper is useful in terms of the relation between power , institutional corruption, and prison gangs. Your college might have a copy of it somewhere.
Also there is another journal article I can't remember where but it is called "Youth Gang Culture in an changing heroin market" which investigates the link between gang members both before going, and after returning from prison in community in texas.
If you want to look at the use of isolation strategies and the debates surronding them then I can recomment getting some digital copies of Prison Focus inmate newspaper. Considering it contains the largest isolation unit in the country its pages are full of arguments and evidence of how prison adminstarive authorties classify inmates as gang members I belive the spring issue was entierly devoted to how the CDCR have changed their classfication in order to make it easier to hold prisoners in indefinate solitary.
Check the spring verion of 2012 San Quentin News as well for a debate on the new Secuity Threat group prevention, identitification and managment strategy"
Edited by whatfruit at 08:58:12 29-11-2012
Edited by whatfruit at 09:06:00 29-11-2012
Edited by whatfruit at 12:13:53 29-11-2012
Edited by whatfruit at 12:36:13 29-11-2012
That's awesome, thanks! My college db does indeed have that journal, so shall have a good plough through all the linked stuff. Cheers again.
@meme sorry if my rant was a bit incoherent I was writing it at work so was not really checking the grammar. From what I concluded from my study was that prison gangs work to circumvent the formal procedures and mechanisms of the institution, in order to create an informal power structure which has as its greatest priority the control over the sub rosa inmate economy. Prison gangs also have an adverse effect on inmate rehabilitation and strengthen ties between criminal organisations on the outside.
One case study of this is Folsom state prison due to the large concentration of Hispanic inmates held in Folsom the black ethnic gang is made up of number of members who are members of warring street gangs on the outside. The experience of jailing together creates relationships which facilitates new criminal connections on the outside.
Pelican bay state prison was my primary case study because many of the inmates sent to pelican bay were transferred there due to their gang activities both outside and inside prison. The concentration of high ranking gang members at pelican bay created an HQ for the coordination of prison gang activity through tout the entire California area. Gang leaders many held in the secure housing unit, communicated with other prisons through the use of illicit communications passed by institions inmate workers e.g those working in food services, or by institional staff by use of black mail or bribery. This way inmates within the shu are able to organise the drug trafficking, murder and other illicit activities both on the street and in prisons.
In regards to your project you mention that you have to create a instrument to minimise risk, is this relating to recidivism or to physical well being?
Edited by whatfruit at 19:29:40 29-11-2012
That's great info, especially about the shu. My current line of thinking was "shove primary members into shus", but from what you're saying that doesn't do much. I'll investigate Pelican Bay a bit more. The project's about recidivism mostly. Though their own health and welfare is a large factor in that too, as far as I understand it.
Edited by meme at 19:38:11 29-11-2012
superdelphinus 7,117 posts
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Loads of great resources regarding solitary its uses, effects both fiscal, social, mental and physical well being ,and lots on pelican bay.
It is very much like a hydra regarding locking influential members in shus there is a surplus of labour removal of one will just cause others to fight for that position. Spikes in inmate violence within prisons occur under two conditions. 1. When the formal administration implements punitive policies which restrict or disrupt informal inmate organisations ability to maintain order or when these policies cause mass unrest e.g the violence leading up the Marion lockdown of 1983. 2in the result of power vacuum within the inmate social system where informal organisations aim to consolidate and mark and protect boundaries of illicit activity.
Edited by whatfruit at 20:54:51 29-11-2012
Edited by whatfruit at 20:57:16 29-11-2012
Edited by whatfruit at 21:09:16 29-11-2012
ronuds 21,788 posts
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I think you can provide fun activities for the inmates to do with one another. Something along the lines of a 3-legged race or putting together a puzzle.
You can give away prizes for those who work together best. Stuff like a second juice box at dinner or 5 minutes extra yard time. Everyone should get some prize, though, so as not to have jealousy lingering in the air.
If that doesn't work, I feel the prison guards should be allowed to serve out beatings when warranted. Also, cattle prods.