Corrections Gangs Term Paper

Pages: 7 (2382 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 5  ·  File: .docx  ·  Topic: Criminal Justice


Prison gangs are groups of organized criminals that began within the penal system and have continued to operate within correctional facilities throughout the United States. Prison gangs are also found outside the prison system as well. Normally, a prison gang is made up of a select group on inmates who have an organized chain of command and who are presided over by an established code of conduct. Prison gangs usually have fewer members than street gangs and usually are structured along racial or ethnic lines. Nationally, prison gangs present a threat because of their function in the transportation and distribution of narcotics. Prison gangs have an important connection between drug-trafficking organizations and street gangs. They often broker the transfer of drugs to gangs in many regions. Prison gangs characteristically are more powerful within the state correctional facilities than they are within the federal system (Prison Gangs, n.d.).

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There are many gangs in prisons. Each gang has their own beliefs, missions, and ways of doing things. Some are more well-known in certain areas than others and their population grows and declines with time. No matter where the gang is or how many members it has, one thing is known for sure they are all dangerous. Five gangs that are considered to be tremendous security threats are the Aryan Brotherhood, the Ku Klux Klan, the Folks Nation, the MS-13, and the Nation of Islam. The top ten gang states as of 1995 were Texas, California, Illinois, Oklahoma, Mississippi, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Ohio, and Indiana. Gang activity has gradually increased over the years. In the 1970's there were an estimated total of 73 gang counties whereas today there are 201 counties in America (Russ, 2010).

TOPIC: Term Paper on Corrections Gangs Assignment

The history of the Aryan Brotherhood prison gang dates back to 1967. This prison gang was started at San Quentin in the California prison system. At first this gang was established in order to provide protection for white prison inmates from Black and Hispanic groups. Some of the original members of the Aryan Brotherhood prison gang had been members in a 1950's gang known as the Bluebirds, and other names used were the Diamond Tooth Gang and the Nazi Gang (the Aryan Brotherhood Prison Gang, 2010).

The philosophy of the Aryan Brotherhood prison gang is made up of a mixture of ideologies of white supremacy and German and Irish ancestry. Over the years, the AB has moved away from the Neo-Nazi philosophy, with group members identifying more with Irish ancestry and Norse/Viking symbolism and history. The AB has a blood in-blood out philosophy. This means that members have to kill in order to gain admission and are only released from membership by their own death. Most members are not political and the group's primary direction is drug trafficking (the Aryan Brotherhood Prison Gang, 2010).

While AB consists primarily of only white members, there are some instances where AB members, who are white supremacists, have been known to associate with blacks when they are needed for drug and extortion dealings. Before being allowed membership, a recruit must show his dedication by carrying out a murder of a person who has been picked out for death by the AB. This ritual is called making your bones. Membership is thought to be fore life. The only way out of it is death, either natural or at the hands of another, including by the AB itself. Recruits are only allowed in if they receive a unanimous vote from existing members. This often results in close relationships of numerous inmates who are not actual members due to their failure to gain unanimous approval (the Aryan Brotherhood Prison Gang, 2010).

The AB is active both in prison as well as out in the community. Members who are released from prison are expected to give themselves to supporting members who are still locked up. Key decisions and murders have to be approved by a Commission before they can be carried out. Additionally, gang members are often writted to a single institution from other facilities under the appearance of testifying in a court case, so they can hold a gang meeting. The AB has its origins in California, but has spread to numerous other locations, mainly through the prison experiences of the members (the Aryan Brotherhood Prison Gang, 2010).

MS 13 was first started in Los Angeles in the early 1980s. After escaping the death squads in El Salvador, and later settling in California, a number of Salvadoran immigrants banded together and formed MS-13, or Mara Salvatrucha. This was done as a self-defense mechanism against rival Mexican gangs. The organization has about 30,000 members. There are 8,000-10,000 of them in the U.S. It is currently the largest gang in many states, and according to many sources is the largest gang in North America. "The Associated Press has reported that the gang has been involved in beheadings and grenade attacks in Central America, as well as machete attacks in cities along the East Coast in the United States" (MS-13: Prison Gang Profile, 2006).

Some corrections officials believe that MS-13 uses the gang as a way to hold one to Latin American heritage. It encourages youth to show pride towards their culture which is really just a mask to shield the gang's real criminal objectives. It is thought that gang members often pay guards to smuggle in cellphones. Members use these to communicate with other members in Guatemala, Honduras and the U.S. It has many members who used to belong to Salvadoran guerrilla forces. FBI spokespersons have claimed that the gang is more like a loosely structured street gang, and is not thought to be highly sophisticated at criminal activity. MS-13 members who function on Long Island have been reported by law enforcement to often share information with fellow members that are in Washington, D.C. And northern Virginia. Gang officials have often said that MS-13 is difficult to keep track of because its members like to move around lot (MS-13: Prison Gang Profile, 2006).

As a street gang, MS-13 can be found in over 30 U.S. states, as well as several countries across Central America, especially El Salvador, Guatemala City and Honduras. Mexico has had many challenging issues with MS-13. They have extended in to Northern Virginia because of the region's already large Salvadoran population. It is thought that they have spread to Maryland suburbs of Langley Park and Gaithersburg. As of 2005 there were approximately 1,500 MS-13 gang members in Northern Virginia. They have also spread to Texas, Maryland, and Massachusetts. They sometimes lure migrant workers into their web of criminal endeavors (MS-13: Prison Gang Profile, 2006).

At least 60% of MS-13 gang members that are in the El Salvador's prison system, are either U.S. deportees or members who are running from criminal prosecution. The prison system has become a safe haven for members in order to avoid rival violence. According to the FBI, the prison system is like a college for the MS 13, displaying the cultural pride of the gang through inmate-crafted emblems, clothing, murals, and graffiti. MS-13 members are known for using deportation to their benefit. Prisons in El Salvador are thought to be the nerve centers for MS-13. They harbor deported leaders from Los Angeles who communicate with their fellow members all across the United States (MS-13: Prison Gang Profile, 2006).

There were over 700 MS-13 members arrested in 2005. Many of these will spend considerable prison terms before they are finally deported back to their homelands. Criticism has been leveled at the deportation policies of the Department of Homeland Security's Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, which has been viewed as simply using tax payers' money to fund short visits between MS-13 members and their family abroad before they eventually return to the United States illegally. It is thought that deportations have helped create an unending chain of gang members moving between the U.S. And Central America. This is thought to create a kind of cyclical pattern of criminal activity between the two continents (MS-13: Prison Gang Profile, 2006).

The Folks Nation is a coalition of street gangs that are all founded out of Chicago. Since its inception it has spread throughout the United States. Their rivals are the People Nation. Within the Folks Nation union there are several individual gangs or nations that are called Mobs. The Mobs all have their own exclusive colors, hand signs, and association. When it all started, most of these gangs had to sign a charter to join the Folks alliance, but more recently any independent gang can join the Folks alliance as long as they have permission from a person who is already part of a gang under the Folks alliance (Folks Nation, n.d.).

The Folks Nation was created in 1978 in the Illinois Department of Corrections. The Black Gangster Disciples were the first to bring about the Folks Nation concept. They were under the leadership of Larry Hoover about. It began with a meeting of several Black, White, and Latino street gangs called by… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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How to Cite "Corrections Gangs" Term Paper in a Bibliography:

APA Style

Corrections Gangs.  (2010, May 25).  Retrieved November 26, 2021, from

MLA Format

"Corrections Gangs."  25 May 2010.  Web.  26 November 2021. <>.

Chicago Style

"Corrections Gangs."  May 25, 2010.  Accessed November 26, 2021.