The Challenge Of Prison Gangs

Prison gangs have mutated from a small entity to something monumental with ideas that are philosophical and fundamental. The number of gangs and team members continues to grow in the United States. This has been the case in the last two decades of the 20th century. A study carried out in 1999, in the United States, showed that about 25% were male prisoners while only three percent were women (Shelden, 2004). In addition, some states demonstrate the high number of gangs compared to others. The prison gangs were first reported in the state of Washington in California, in 1957. A decade later, they appeared in other states such as Illinois. Early prison gangs spread through transfers or re-arrests of gang members in another jurisdiction. The inmates in a prison engage in spreading the ideals of the gang in which they enjoyed identity prior to incarceration. In other places, charismatic leaders initiated what they had heard about other gangs. Two main gangs exist within the prison systems. They include street gangs that are brought to jail and the group that originates within the institutions. The major factors for early development are a sense of belonging and protection during times of confinement. The other factors included racketeering, the black market for illegal goods and services, and racism. However, protection served as the main aim for the gangs. Mostly, when individuals join prison they are challenged to engage in a fight. Such individuals are forced to join the gang, pay for protection, or servants to other prisoners. For example, in Texas gang recruit like fraternities and often target members who are serving short-term sentences.

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