Statement of the problem

Prison gangs exist in most prisons in the US. To deny the existence of these gangs will amount to living in a state of denial. At this juncture it is important, to understand the nature of these prison gangs. What are these prison gangs? How did they originate? What philosophy underlies their existence? Since these gangs are a threat to the lives of fellow inmates and correction officers, the operation of these gangs need to be identified so that appropriate steps can be taken to curtail their activities.

Analysis of selected prison gangs in the United States In this section the an analysis of selected prison gangs in the US is discussed based on the five original prison gangs that started in the US namely: Aryan Brotherhood, La Nuestra Familia, Mexican Mafia, Texas Syndicate and The Neta Association. Aryan brotherhood The Aryan Brotherhood (AB) is an all white prison gang which started in 1967 in San Quintin prison. Although the Aryan Brotherhood originated in California it has spread to other prisons across the US.

Members of the Aryan Brotherhood are opposed to other prison gangs such as: “La Nuestra Familia and Black Guerilla Family. ” The Aryan Brotherhood started with white supremacist philosophy and racist ideology. This gang was formed to provide protection for white people from Black and Hispanic groups. Although the gang started in 1967, the group evolved from a 1950s gang called the “Bluebirds. ” The Aryan Brotherhood is also known as: Alice; Alice Baker, Tip, Brand, Diamond Tooth Gang and the “Nazi Gang. ”

The Aryan Brotherhood has a “Blood in/blood out philosophy” meaning that members need to kill before they become part of the group. On the other hand a member ceases to be a member of the gang only by their own death. This death can be of natural causes but in some cases, is often by members of other gangs or by a member of the Aryan Brotherhood gang itself. Before anyone is accepted as a member of the gang, they must kill a person who has been specified by the gang. This gruesome initiation procedure is referred to as “making your bones.

” Furthermore, inmates become members of the gang by gaining approval from other members of the gang. At the moment the groups’ orientation is drug trafficking. Apart from drug trafficking Pelz et al write that members of the Aryan Brotherhood are involved in contract killing, extortion and pressure rackets (1). Members of the group will associate with blacks when they are needed in drug trafficking but they will never admit them as members of the group- these are associate members as noted earlier in this paper.

The Aryan Brotherhood is active both in the prison as well as in the community. Members of the gang who are released from prison work in support of members of the gang who are still in prison. Decisions made by members of the Aryan Brotherhood are coordinated by the group’s “commission. ” This decision making group often uses various tactics of communication. Many prison authorities try to break communication between members of the group but in many cases they are not successful. This is why the group has survived till today.

Members of the gang devise ways of communication, often through a third party in order to keep links with members open. Members of the Aryan Brotherhood are identified by specific tattoos such as: a shamrock, the alphabets “AB” and three sixes. When a non member of the Aryan Brotherhood is found wearing any of these tattoos, the gang requires that the person should be killed. Furthermore, these tattoos make it easy for prison officials to identify members of the Aryan Brotherhood. Thus members of the gang often hide the tattoos in the hairline (or under arms) in order to escape detection.