Prison Gangs

“Once inside, I was walked through a gauntlet of desperate men. Their hot smell in the muggy corridor was as foul as their appearance. None of them seemed to have a full set of front teeth. Many bore prominently displayed tattoos of skulls or demons. One could argue whether it was the look of these men that led them to prison or whether it was the prison that gave them their look. Just looking at them made me fear for my life” (Hassine, 7). Most inmates in correctional facilities felt the way that Victor Hassine felt on his first day in a correctional facility in Pennsylvania called Graterford State Prison. New inmates are seen as “fresh meat”. They fear their life. Most of these inmates find sanctuary in gangs. Inmates join gangs for protection. Gangs in correctional facilities are more of a necessity, unlike street gangs. People don’t need a gang to survive in the street because there are other ways one can find help, a family, protection, belongingness, etc. But in correctional facilities one’s outlets are limited. One’s preoccupation in jail is survival which leads inmates to change their habits, personality, and even their values. Living in an environment where “an unexpected smile could mean trouble, a man in uniform is not a friend, being kind is a weakness, and eye contact is a threat” doesn’t leave one much of a choice, does it? There are numerous gangs in correctional facilities but among the most common are the Latin Kings, Five Percent Nation, and the Netas. Some gangs in these facilities are extensions of neighborhood street gangs. Their names are based on their urban location, like the 21st and Norris Gang, the 60th and Market Gang, and the 10th Street Gang in Philadelphia. There are also less common prison gangs like Los Solidos, Latin Locos, G27, Nation, Brotherhood, Elm City Boys, 20 Luv, and Esses. White gangs almost always originate in prison and are a minority. They are not well-stru…

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