According to Donald Hudson, a paroled Mexican Mafia member, the Texas Syndicate are a mean and aggressive lot who think that the prison is under their control. They go around extorting money and other valuables from non-members and will gang up on you if you dare resist their advances. ‘Whenever the chance arises, a fight is the only way to prove that you are no less than them’. These are Hudson’s concluding remarks on an interview performed to validate the source of hatred and violence between the two prison gangs.
It is almost predictable that the same sentiments would come from a member of the Texas Syndicate probed on why he would take on a fight with a Mexican Mafia. One thing is prevalent; both want to have an authoritative position within the prison fraternity and the presence of the other is a great deterrence to this objective. The direct effect of this is the eruption of violence that is common place in the prison. Fights are likely to ignite at the slightest provocation and due to member loyalty, these often turn into gang fights.
Having served as a warden for a substantial amount of time, I have witnessed cases of violence among prison gangs. The Mexican mafia and the Texas Syndicate gangs despite being of the same nationality continue to fight one another with high levels of violence being witnessed in the prison. It has been noted with concern that not a single day goes by without a confrontation between a Mexican Mafia and a Texas Syndicate member and constant fights are evident within the cells. This is made worse by the fact that other gang members are likely to join the fight in support of their members (Byrne, 2007).
This leads to severe injuries and catastrophic incidents that could otherwise be prevented through separation. Several inmates have been murdered while others have been taken to hospital in critical condition (Specter, 2006). For this reason, there is dire need for improvement of this life-threatening situation before it can get out of hand. Here below is a detailed explanation of how I would manage, control and prevent the ever escalating rivalry between these two groups. I realize that one of the major reasons behind the violence have to do with sharing of resources among the inmates (Hudson, 2009).
Since resources are limited, there are constant fights over who should make use of the resources such as who uses the bathroom first, who takes the front seat in the TV room, who gets to eat before who among others. I would address this by ensuring proper distribution of resources among the prisoners. Specter (2006) notes that prisoner’s access to resources is bound to reduce violence as it serves to ensure that prisoners do not have to compete for scarce resources. To promote this, order in access to resources would have to be ensured.
Dividing the prisoners into groups and assigning a leader to control the use of each resource such as the use of bathrooms would help reduce malicious competition. Further, I would have these groups take turns to take meals in orderly queues and at specific times to reduce congestion and consequent quarrels. In addition, I would try as much as possible to make sure that inmates have personal control on resources that they make use of everyday. These include plates and buckets which they can take to their rooms after use. This way, there will be no chances of fighting over the said resources.
Reconciliation through dialogue is an important aspect that I would address in trying to reduce conflicts between this two groups. This would call for the warring prisoners’ cooperation which I would try to gain through talking to each of them separately about reconciliation (Byrne, 2007). This would of course be after identifying the cause of the problem. There is bound to be a certain kind of bond between people of the same nationality and even though their memberships in the rival gangs may set them against one another, they are still one people. This is what I could use as a base in the reconciliation process.
Dialogue and instilling the spirit brotherhood is what I would use to encourage interaction between the two warring groups. I would try to make them understand that whenever they fight, they are hurting their fellow countryman which does not go in line with America’s spirit of togetherness. Interaction between the two groups would play a significant role in reducing future conflicts. I would make use of team building activities where members of the different groups would have to work together in completing a given task. This way, they would have to cooperate so as to obtain the desired results.
For example, organizing games where members of the two gangs are put in the same team would further encourage communication between the two groups. Gang members would see others as their teammates rather than rivals such that conflict between them will subside. Whenever chances of conflicts between the two groups occur, team members would feel obliged not to fight their teammates hence promote harmony between prisoners. Sanctions and rewards are one way of guiding behavior as suggested by psychologists. I would use sanctions to discourage cases of violence by subjecting wrong doers to strict disciplinary measures.
Such measures could include isolation where one would be required to stay in his own room and not participate in recreation activities until he promises not to repeat the act again. To make the prisoners aware of this, posters indicating prison rules and the various punishments for violent actions would be pinned around the prison area for everyone to see. Sanctions would go hand in hand with rewards such that those who reform effectively and those displaying high levels of discipline will receive rewards (Specter, 2006). These could include special meals and special rooms that are normally reserved for inmate leaders within the prison.
These kinds of incentives may not sound attractive to a layman but in a prison setting where most of the resources are limited and prisoners have to contend with small rooms for shelter, they could work well as rewards. The presence of drugs within the prison vicinity is a major contribution to violence witnessed in prisons. These drugs come through the strong networks that these prison gangs have established in the outside world. They then make use of their friends and relatives for delivery of the drugs which are then circulated within the prison (Hudson, 2009; Byrne, 2007).
Violence in this case could result from the influence of the drugs or as prisoners fight for these drugs. The best thing therefore would be to get rid of the drugs once and for all. This would be done alongside other prison staff to make sure that every visitor is frisked and declared free of possession of any drug before being let into the prison compound. Thorough inspections on the prisoner’s property to unearth any hidden drugs would have to be conducted on a regular basis. Those prisoners found in drug possession would be subjected to strict sanctions so as to prevent future disobedience.