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1 Dennise Orlando-Morningstar, Prison Gangs 1 (1997)

handle is hein.congcourts/spneoffb0001 and id is 1 raw text is: n correctional institutions,
there is a natural tendency
for inmates to form groups,
both formal and informal. One
of the first documented prison
gangs, the Gypsy Jokers, ap-
peared in a Washington state
penitentiary in the early 1950s.
The first known prison gang
with a national scope, the
Mexican Mafia, emerged soon
after, in 1957, in the
California prison sys-
During the 1960s
and '70s, prisoners
formed gangs primarily to pro-
tect themselves and to mo-
nopolize illegal prison activities
such as gambling, trading con-
traband, narcotics trafficking,
and committing contract mur-
ders. The gangs' organization
and operations mirrored those
of street gangs and traditional
organized crime families. Over
the years, the type, nature, and
number of prison gangs have
changed dramatically. Prison
gangs today range from na-
tional supergangs to small re-
gional gangs structured along
paramilitary lines. Prison gangs
are found in both state and fed-
eral penitentiaries.
Traditional prison gangs,
such as the Texas Syndicate,
the Mexican Mafia, and the
Aryan Brotherhood, are char
acterized by structure. They

have distinct organizational hi-
erarchies and constitutions-
regulations that govern opera-
tions, recruitment, misconduct,
and membership. Most prison
gangs recruit along ethnic or
racial lines. Members are gen-
erally over the age of 25 and
have extensive experience with
the criminal justice system.
Mos~t havep lrpiclxj servedHtime

in prison. Membership is usu-
ally for life, and discipline is
strict; members who violate the
group's principles or directives
may be assaulted or killed.
The Federal Bureau of Pris-
ons reports that prison gangs
currently account for a high
percentage of prison violence
and are creating increasingly
severe management problems
in federal correctional institu-
tions. Prison gangs have con-
siderable influence over other
inmates. Their criminal activi-
ties include loan sharking, nar-
cotics trafficking, protection,
prostitution, robbery, witness
intimidation, and murder. State
and federal correctional offi-
cials predict that as more
people are incarcerated, the
volume and intensity of gang-
related problems will grow.

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