Prison Gangs Controversy In The United States

Why The Issue Concerning Prison Gangs Is Extremely Controversial In The United States

Section 1: Groups, which are organized and ensure that their societal expectations are met, are known as gangs. The latter mostly deals with issues, which are antisocial and can be found in prisons or in the streets. They gangs have leaders, who gives orders to the members and are not questioned. Gangs have codes and colors, which are associated with them, most of them tend to have their bodies tattooed. There are several reasons why people join gangs according to sociologists. They include; Money, discipline, identity, recognition, among others (Santos, 2007. 45).

In correctional jurisdictions, there is a persistent problem of prison gangs. Research has found out that the gangs in prison are responsible for misconduct as well as other violent crimes. The order in prison is disrupted by the prison gangs. Security and safety of other prisoners and the warders is threatened by the activities, which are conducted by the prison gangs. The needs of the prisoners has to be addressed, in order to better facilitate their development. Some of the issues, which arise in matters concerning prison gangs include; denial of their rights, hate, among others (Santos, 2007. 48).

Most prison gangs are formed on the basis of race, which in turn, creates racial extremism as well as racial enmity.  This means that the prison gangs are always causing conflict while they are locked up. The life in prisons is a social issue, which is a reality. Thus, procedures and policies have to be enacted to ensure that the prison gangs do not thrive. Almost on a daily basis, problems in prison are emerging and a solution should be found before the matter escalates further. Other times, staff working in prisons has been blamed for furthering the activities of prison gangs (Santos, 2007. 56). Society is greatly affected by prison gangs, despite the fact that they are locked up. This has had a great impact on society, which Americans live in. In some countries such as Brazil, the gangs in prison have a lot of power. As a result, they have affected the society and there is no power, which can sustain them. An example of such a gang is the ‘Red Command’ which has powers, similar to that of a government. Most prison gangs are associated with activities such as murder and drugs and the society is impacted. Prions gangs have a great influence among other prisoners as they control all the activities at the prison.

This paper seeks to give an analysis on the activities of prison gangs in the United States.


Analysis of how prison gangs cause chaos when they are denied access to certain provisions.

Section 2: According to a recent Los Angeles Times article ‘California’s hidden hunger strike’ in the year 2011, prison gangs are against lack of access to them by reporters. Some federal judges believe that the prison in California is in an extreme in- humane state. This is a form of punishment, which is unusual, as well as cruel as it is against the constitution of the United States. Lawyers are also in this protest as they seek to ensure that inmates are treated well. In the month of July, a hunger strike was conducted by state prisoners in most of the prisons in the state (Los Angeles Times, 2011. 1). The prison gangs are responsible for ensuring that the hunger strike is coordinated in all the state prisons. This is because prison gangs believe that they are being victimized and treated badly. Thus, they are not consuming any food and the figure of those in the strike is estimated to be about 400 inmates. According to reports, the cause of the hunger strike is after some inmates spent almost a whole day in isolation. Furthermore, the cells were sound proof and this took place at the State Prion at Pelican Bay, whereby there is a unit for Special Housing. The walls at the correctional institution are extremely high and the prisoners are confined in extremely small spaces (Knox, 2000. 23).

In order to ensure that activities of prison gangs are discouraged, the treatment is vital according to officials at the prison. It also becomes easy to ensure that short –calling and gang related information is obtained. Also, it becomes difficult for the people outside the prison to obtain orders, which are given by leaders of prison gangs. Gang leaders are accused of organizing the hunger strike. Those who chose to defy orders of not engaging in the hunger strike risk being murdered (Los Angeles Times, 2011. 1). Advocates of the prison gangs believe that mental illness can develop among the inmates.

Section 3: The inmates who are striking at the correctional facility are not allowed to have access to reporters from the Los Angeles Times. The reason being given is that safety and security are vital issues at Pelican Bay and this is according to the Rehabilitation and Corrections in the State Department, official Oscar Hidalgo. The media does not believe that this is because of conditions, which are inhumane, as well as lack of medical care in the prisons. Society ought to be informed about matters, which are taking place in the state prisons. More needs to be done to ensure prison gangs do not thrive instead of isolating its members. For example, cell phone smuggling should be scrutinized efficiently and this will be extremely beneficial (Los Angeles Times, 2011. 1). Gang members have to ensure that they do not engage in activities associated with gangs. This should be for a period of at least six years, if they are to be free from serving their sentence at the Unit for Special Housing. The question of ethics is raised in matters regarding to ethics as well as morality. Human beings should not be isolated for long periods, as it can have adverse effects on them. Prisoners in gangs are also human beings who are entitled to rights. This means that they should not be tortured, as they can be rehabilitated to become better people in society. When prisoners are given access to reporters, they can express their views. In turn, other people who might be considering joining gangs will be cautious. Society should accommodate prisoners who leave gangs to start lives, which impact others in a positive way (Curry, 2001. 1260).

Section 4: After reading this article in the Los Angeles Times, I am extremely disappointed at the manner, which prisoners in gangs are being treated. The media should be given access, so that it highlights the issues, which are taking place in prisons in the United States. Studies show that that when prisoners are isolated from others, they become mentally challenged .Others even become more heinous than they were before. It should be known that prisoners, who attempt to leave their gangs, face many challenges, such as losing their own lives. Prisoners in gangs are also human beings who are entitled to rights. This means that they should not be tortured as they can be rehabilitated to become better people in society. When prisoners are given access to reporters, they can express their views. In turn, other people who might be considering joining gangs will be cautious. Society should accommodate prisoners who leave gangs to start lives, which impact others in a positive way.

Section 5: In conclusion, the constitution has the right of protecting prisoners including those who are in gangs. It should be known that prison gangs do not have extensive rights as compared to that of ordinary citizens. The first amendment limits the rights of gangs in prisons. This is because of issues regarding penology and security. According to the superior court, running prisons is a hard task, which needs attention. In turn, the rights of prisoners have to be limited according to the government (Harer & Neal, 2000. 76). Prison officials should ensure that prison gang activities are known, so that they do not affect society. If all these considerations are implemented, both society and prison gangs will benefit greatly. Thus this article has been extremely beneficial as the ongoing of prison gangs is known. Those involved in matters regarding sociology should read this article.

Work Cited

The Los Angeles Times. California’s hidden hunger strike. Retrieved 21 September 2011 from 2011.

Curry, G. Self-reported gang involvement and officially recorded delinquency. Criminology, 38, 4 (2001):1253-1274.

Harer, M. & Neal. P.  Gender differences in predictors of prison violence: Assessing the predictive validity of a risk classification system. Washington, D.C.: Federal Bureau of Prisons, 2000.Print.

Knox, G. An Introduction to Gangs, Revised and Expanded 5th Edition. Peotone, Ill: New

Chicago School Press, 2000. Print.

Santos. M. Inside: Life Behind Bars in America. New York: St. Martin’s Griffin, 2007.Print.




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