The changing social organization of prison protection markets: When prisoners choose to organize horizontally rather than vertically

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Abstract

This article revisits the framework which Buentello et al. (Prison J 71(2): 3–14, 1991) created to describe the development of inmate solidarity groups into prison gangs in the Texas Department of Corrections. Interviews with current and former prison gang members in Texas, Arizona, and Illinois augment the current published literature on prison gangs in California. This article argues that the responses which prison administrations make to prisoners’ social orders are not static and have, in some cases, caused vertically configured groups to evolve into horizontally configured groups. These structural changes in prison gangs affect the gangs’ ability to affect control in the criminal underworld outside prison. Accordingly, although the challenges which prison administrations present to vertically developed social orders within prison may improve the administrations’ control within the prison walls, they may effectively decrease criminal-led social control on the street, leading to an increase in street-level violence.
Original languageEnglish
JournalTrends in Organized Crime
Early online date2018
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 28 Feb 2018
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

(CC-BY 4.0) Open Access article licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0).

Keywords

  • Prison gangs
  • Security threat groups
  • Social order
  • Protection rackets
  • Prisons
  • Organized crime

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