The modern society is considered to be highly developed; however, it should be stated that with the technical progress and industry improvement, society still faces such a burning issue as criminality. Every country has already developed strategies concerning how to deal with the criminals and what punishment they deserve. Although the modern criminology developed specific methods and approaches that are implemented into the government system, one should not forget that the crime committed does not end when the court decision is made as to the issue of the threat groups and gangs in the prison still exists and needs to be solved.
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To get deeper involved in the significance of the issue, one should take a closer look at the most widespread gangs that influence the criminal situation not only in prisons but also outside of them. First of all, it should be pointed out that the Aryan Brotherhood is believed to be one of the most powerful and oldest prison gang. This Brotherhood can sometimes be referred to as Alice Baker (AB), The Brand, or One-Two (Brook, 2011, p. 31).
The members of the gang can be characterized by the racist ideology. The group was organized by a criminal element from Ireland to protect white prisoners. The gang consists of almost 25,000 of members that take an active part in gambling and drug dealing. The hate and cruelty seem to be guiding powers of the Brotherhood; the words of John Greschner, the member of the gang and the former commissioner sentenced for the murder, characterize the main position of the gang:
For the Aryan Brotherhood, murder is a way to make a social statement. If blacks attack whites, we send a message. We go pick one of their shot callers. We’re going to butcher him in front of God and everybody at high noon in the middle of the yard. It’s going to be a vicious, brutal killing. Because that’s how brothers take care of business, and a brother’s work is never done (Holthouse, 2012, para. 8).
With the changing of the structure of the federal prisons in 1961, the inmates of different races were combined all together. It should be stated that before that time, black and white prisoners were separated and that is, the desegregation caused a lot of conflicts and confrontations and gave a reason for the emerging of Aryan Brotherhood that was developed at the Quentin State Prison (Brook, 2011, p. 68). Originally, the gang aimed to protect whites against black gangs, such as the Black Guerilla Family, that were aggressive.
Nowadays, the gang commits crimes outside and inside of the prisons. Although the gang has a racist ideology, they usually work with different racial groups when the financial profit takes place. The members of the gang developed the hierarchy within the group and identify each other by tattoos with swastikas, the abbreviation of the gang, and number 666 (Brook, 2011, p. 75). The credo of the gang is “blood in, blood out” describes their attitude towards the entrance in the gang. The new member can only be accepted after the murder of another prisoner; however, if the person wants to leave the gang he should be killed (Brook, 2011, p. 84).
The opponents to the AB are the Black Guerrilla Family that has a tremendous fame of being one of the cruelest prison gangs. The gang was founded by George Jackson in 1966 in California and aimed to protect African Americans from the severe actions of racists (Gaines & Kaune, 2014, p. 465). It should be stated that the gang was originally formed against the politics of the California Department of Corrections. The gang has the influence not only in prison but also on the streets. This fact is considered to be the natural process as when people get released they usually spread the ideology and beliefs of the gang. When the gang was formed the only way to become a member of it was to get the life sentence. The gang had crucial problems struggling with the splitting of opinions.
The members of the BGF usually have two choices. The first one is Black Entrepreneurial Network that deals with the drug dealing. The second opportunity is to follow Cambone, which is focused on the militant ideology. Nowadays two representatives of different flows exist together; however, it should be stated that during the first years of the development of the gang. The members of the gang identify themselves by the tattoos with crossed weapons. The gang is believed to be politically involved and shares the Marxist-Leninist ideas. The group is known for the murder of the Huey Percy Newton, the African American political activist and the founder of the Black Panther Party.
Another well-known prison gang is considered to be the Mexican Mafia. This group was organized in prison in California by thirteen Mexicans. According to the official reports, the Mexican Mafia is the most powerful gang in the prison system in California; more than 200 members of the gang are assisted by almost 1000, which wait for becoming a part of the crime organization (Rafael, 2013, p. 81). The gang was founded in 1957 and aimed to protect the members of the gang from the other organizational groups that were popular at that time. The main crimes associated with the gang are extortions, drug dealing, and murdering not only in prisons but also outside of them. As a matter of fact, the Mexican Mafia usually collaborates with the Aryan Brotherhood.
Their enemy is the African-American gang, the Black Guerrilla Family. The first crime of the gang that was committed outside of the prison took place in 1971 by Joe “Pegleg” Morgan, who then became one of the leaders of the group (Rafael, 2013, p. 279). His influence in the field of drug dealing helped the member of the Mexican Mafia to establish their power of drug dealing in California. They developed the personal strategy for spreading the needed orders and requests that work even though the members of the gang are strictly taken under control. The total amount of people connected with the crimes made by the gang is more than 30,000 and the number of the members is growing every year. The hierarchy within the Mexican Mafia is similar to the military one. They developed a severe system of punishment for those members who refuse to commit crimes, usually, such people got killed.
The MS-13 gang was organized in 1980 in Los Angeles by immigrants from Salvador. It should be stated that the gang has influence not only in the United States but also in Canada and Mexico (Logan, 2009, p. 14). The members of the gang can be easily identified by the tattooing body and the facial expression as they use specific language of signs to spread the information. Tattoos can tell a lot about the person as they are usually connected to the crimes made before. The MS-13 gang uses violence as the main tool while controlling the members and solving issues with enemies. The number of members is growing every year as the gang becomes more powerful and gains supporters from the criminal elements. The gang is famous for the cruel attitude towards victims. Their main concern is to show that the Latin race should be respected.
The Folk Nation is widespread in the Midwestern part of the United States and was originally founded in Chicago. The Folk Nation is the alliance of the street gangs that are opponents to the People Nation (Morewitz, 2013, p. 104). The alliance was developed by Larry Hoover in 1978. The active members of the gang were Latin Eagles, Latin Disciples, the Black Disciples, and the Spanish Cobras. The union of the street gangs takes an active position in the prisons as well. The most common crimes are shooting and robberies. The violent murder of the innocent young girl in Brooklyn shocked Americans and the responsibility for the crime, Devon Rodney, was sentenced to 20 years.
The criminal activity of the analyzed above gangs is similar as they are involved in drug dealing and murders as well in prison and outside of them. The gangs share violent methods of member’s punishment and criminal activity. However, the ideology of every gang is different. Although, the gangs have confrontations, sometimes enemies unite to defeat the powerful opponent.
In conclusion, it should be stated that the issue concerning the crimes made by the prison gangs and their active crime involvement outside of the prison should be tackled to prevent the severe consequences. The question demands an urgent solution as the gangs’ activity affects the crime rate. The dreadful approaches of punishment cannot be implemented in the modern society and should be taken under control.
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Brook, J. (2011). Blood in blood out: The violent empire of the Aryan Brotherhood. London, U. K.: SCB Distributors.
Gaines, L., & Kaune, M. (2014). Criminal justice in action (8th ed.). Belmont, CA: Cengage Learning.
Holthouse, D. (2012). Former ‘Commissioner’ John Greschner Discusses Life and Death in the Aryan Brotherhood. Web.
Logan, S. (2009). This is for the Mara Salvatrucha: Inside the MS-13, America’s most violent gang. New York, NY: Hyperion.
Morewitz, S. (2013). Handbook of forensic sociology and psychology. New York, NY: Springer Science & Business Media.
Rafael, T. (2013). The Mexican Mafia. New York, NY: Encounter Books.