Runninghead: PRISON GANGS
December 12, 2011
Prison gangs have developed and evolved in the U.S. prison system for a number of reasons. Probably the most common are for protection and control. To the street-level gang member, state prison gang members carry a great deal of power, respect and influence. Sadly, the prison gang influence is so strong that some street gang members aspire to become prison gang members. The ultimate commitment to a prison gang is lifelong membership. Often in prisons, inmates of the same race stick together, suggesting that ethnicity can be an important cohesive factor in inmate populations. For proof of this theory, look at the formation of the Mexican Mafia, Black Guerilla Family, and Blood and Crips gangs.
It is generally accepted that the Mexican Mafia, a Latino based gang, formed around 1957 at the Duel Vocational Institution in Tracy, California. It was originally founded by 13 inmates who were active Latino street gang members from different neighborhoods in the Los Angeles area. The gang's nickname became "La Erne," signifying the Spanish word for the letter M. Gang members banded together in prison to protect themselves from other gang members, inmates and prison staff. It was this perceived need for protection from another group that acted as a catalyst for the gang's formation. Today, Mexican Mafia members come from all parts of Southern California, and active recruitment of young street gang members by members and...