by Emily Barner
Topic paper for correction class
|Reduction Methods of Prison Gang Violence
It is widely known that the incarceration rate in America is the highest among developed nations. This problem may have originated with Regan’s get tough on crime philosophy. Since the 1980’s there has been a constant increase in the number of inmates in federal prisons.(Toller, Tsagaris 1996) In 2002 the incarceration number of men and women being incarcerated was an estimated at two million. (Fleisher, Decker 2001) Minority members of society are disproportionally represented in the prison system (Spergel 1994), which as lead the formation prison gangs (Ruddell, Decker, Egley 2006) These gangs work as criminal corporations and use there violent tactics to in a sense control facilities. Correctional institutions are now forced to combat prison violence though intervention programming, of which have little to none evaluation data proving their effectiveness.
Gangs in general are typically formed as a defense mechanism, a way to protect a particular group usually with a common racial or ethnic identity from others who threaten their safety and well being. With the violent nature of prisons it comes to no surprise that gangs also develop here as a way of protecting those with common identities typically centered on race and ethnicity. The majority of prison gangs stared in the mainly in Texas and California and spread until in 1991 there were an estimated 100,000 or more prison gang members in the United States. (Fleisher, Decker 2001)
There are five common methods or approaches to prison gang management. Segregation, placing known or suspected gang members in special housing cutting them off from the general population, and consolidation, sending “hard core” gang members to designated prisons, deal with prison population management as a form of intervention. In a national survey on prison gangs 133 prison officials reported that did not feel segregation was not an effective method of violence reduction. For them they wanted to see an end to violent act and deemed it ineffective because acts still were still being carried out. However, for the Hampden County Correctional Center there was improvement with gang members after they implemented a graduated program for gang members who wished to leave segregation units.
Bus Therapy the act of moving an inmate around to various prisons for a period of months and Out of State transfer are a way of deflecting potential problems with in an institution. The purpose of these approaches is to disrupt the gang and hope that it will fall apart with out leadership. One could see how these two methods would relieve one prison of a problem inmate but transferring them to another facility will only cause problems for that facility and may lead to internal conflict with the gang and cause violent reactions.
Placing an official note in the inmates file
This is a from of labeling that may be incorrect because it is usually based on unconfirmed information
• Data base tracking
To provide communication between different agencies and prisons
One major weakness in gang management is lack of useful information. That is virtually no evaluation data suggesting that these methods are having any effect of gang control in prisons.
Start with the youth prevent them from developing a life style that involves crime and may lead to gang involvement
• Communities with a youth criminal or gang problem can develop programs based on their particular needs.
• In-school anti-gang
• Crisis intervention team to work with police to prevent gang rivalry
• Education based programs including alternative and vocational for school aged and young adults and parenting classes
• School officials and community members also need to be educated about the gangs in their area