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  • Print publication year: 2019
  • Online publication date: August 2019

1 - Foundation for the Study


At the turn of the century, James Jacobs, New York University law professor and author of Stateville (1977), lamented: “It is hard to understand why the prison gang phenomenon does not attract more attention from the media, scholars, and policy analysts” (2001, vi). Certainly, prisons are dangerous places that impact communities as well as the lives of inmates and those who work there. Over the last several years, prison gangs have made headlines across the country. The 2013 inmate hunger strike in California – involving over 30,000 inmates – was organized by black, Latino, and white gang members housed in solitary confinement for indeterminate sentences (Reiter 2016); the executive director of the Colorado Department of Corrections was executed on the doorstep of his home in 2013 by a recently released 211 Crew prison gang member (Prendergast 2014); and a multi-jurisdictional task force led to the indictments of nearly seventy-five Aryan Brotherhood of Texas gang members, some of whom were implicated in the blowtorch removal of a gang tattoo, the inspiration for a Sons of Anarchy episode (Schiller 2016).