Colon has been in prison since 1971. He was convicted of murdering a rival gang member and for trafficking in heroin while inside of Stateville, located in Joliet. Colon said, "The gangs have an understanding with each other. We talk to each other to ensure that we don't have a confrontation.
We try to keep the static down." In the state prison located in downstate Menard, Illinois, an inmate by the name of Gino Colon Gang leaders run major drug operations from their cells. In order to understand how the Department of Corrections can take back the prisons from the gangs requires an understanding of how deeply entrenched streets gangs are inside the prison system. Some of things that gangs do in prison can be called outrageous and others are absurd. In 1995, Stateville officials uncovered hundreds of pounds of food that was stolen by the members of the Gangster Disciples from the prison kitchen. The food included hamburger meat, huge rolls of sliced turkey, a large number of canned hams and boxes of frozen seafood. Big Lowe used the food to run a thriving cell-house restaurant.
for many years, marijuana, heroin, cocaine and LSD flooded into Stateville, Menard and Pontiac prisons. They said that drugs were as easy to get behind bars as it was out on the street. Some of the smuggling methods that are used are, to be honest, ingenious. One inmate at Pontiac once hid marijuana in his prosthetic leg. At Menard, gang bangers would hit golf balls filled with cocaine and marijuana over the wall of the prison to their buddies in the prison yard. Most often, drugs are smuggled into the prisons by women working for the gangs.
The women hide the drugs in shoes, bras, wigs and other clothing. A woman can stuff a drug-filled condom in her vagina or tape a bag of drugs under her armpit. Once inside the prison, the women remove the hidden contraband in the visitor's washroom an then pass it to an inmate during a kiss, a hug or even a handshake. While the drug trade is important to the street gang members in prison, there is only one other thing that is even more important and that is weapons to defend oneself. The gangs often cooperate with one another in trafficking drugs and procuring weapons. Victor Hassine wrote a book entitles Life Without Parole, in which he describes the horrific reality of life behind bars.
He writes, "Once inside, I was walked through a quant let of desperate men. Their hot smell in the muggy corridor was as foul as their appearance. None of them seemed to have a full set of front teeth. Many bore prominently displayed tattoos of skulls or demons.
One could argue whether it was the look of these men that led them to prison or whether it was the prison that gave them their look. Just looking at them made me fear my life" (Hassine, 7). Prison gangs are everywhere, and effect every inmate. When a new convict is admitted he is viewed as "fresh meat" among the prison gang members and victimized to no end. Prison gangs are a convicts means of survival in an environment so starved of morals that violence, rap, and murder are just a daily reality.
While it is impossible to know the impact of prison gangs on our street, experts dispute over the control and communication between street and prison gangs. Some argue that there is little connection between street and prison gangs and that operations of prison gangs remain behind prison walls. Drug trafficking does exist within prisons; it is usually made possible through inmate s friends and / or girlfriends (Huff 248) Prison gangs tend to display a distinct hierarchical structure. A single inmate who best embodies the gang s value (Terri to, 580) assumes the role of the leader.
A leader time in control is normally short, partially due to the prison system s ability to relocate inmates. It is usually the strongest remaining gang member that assumes leadership or the gang s elite counsels a decision. A member s degree of influence flows down a criterion of ranks, with the recruits having no say in any aspect of the gang s direction and function. Gaining higher position in the ranks usually involve violent acts against opposing gang members. Each member takes an oath to maintain loyalty and obedience to the gang; any signs of defiance or inability to represent gang ideals would lead to violent confrontation. Because most inmates have tendency to join gangs inside prison due to over exposure and the need for protection, it is important to figure out ways to combat the violence these gangs encourage.
By inmate deportation, the department can ensure that the inmate will be hard-pressed to find new racial alliances. For example, the state may place an Aryan Brotherhood leader in a facility heavily populated with black inmates. Unfortunately, gangs tend to be regenerating in nature. There is always someone next in line, and by deporting a leader, the prison may only increase the gang s anger toward the system, encouraging further violence. Many other attempts have been made to curb gang violence in prison. Twenty-three hour lock down, and further segregating measures have all been applied, but somehow prison gangs remain more prevalent and visible than ever While there are many splinter gangs and offshoots, officials are aware of about six major prison gangs within the country: Neta, Mexican Mafia, La Nuestra Familia, Texas Syndicate, Aryan Brotherhood, and Black Guerrilla Family.
Each one of these gangs has historical significance concerning the sociological implications of society. The two states that experience the brunt of prison gang activity are Texas and California. Most of these gangs are divided along strict racial lines causing a severe degree of racism among inmates.