The proliferation of gang development had increased since the 1950’s (Fong and Buentello, 1991). An attempt to understand prison gang in 1985 showed that they were dangerous entities that were not organized. National Gang intelligence estimates that there are approximately 230,000 gang members incarcerated in federal and state prison nationwide (page, 30). This is important because gangs are a major problem not only in correctional settings, but in their community influence. Research has revealed that prison gangs have a greater chance of recidivating than those who are not gang-affiliated. In addition it costs state government on average $22,500 to house inmates (Dooley, Seals, and Sharbek 2014). The 2011 National Gang threat Assessment found, “prison-related crime and violence in the nation’s correctional system poses significant threat to facility employees and growing threat in many communities.” This literature review will explore the question on how does personal safety in prison increase the likelihood of inmates joining a gang. The prevalence of gangs in prison appears to offer inmates protection to some extent, yet gang-membership correlates to victimization within prison. The criminal justice system must effectively train correctional officers about prison gangs and deter their development through education, job skills and appropriate re-integration into the community.
PRISON GANG AND PRISON ENVIRONMENT
Gang norms, organizations and protective associations
Prison environment greatly impacts inmate behavior. When inmates arrive in prison, they bring with them characteristics and behaviors from the streets. This influence is known as the importation theory, which is defined as “the subculture within prison is brought in from the outside walls by offenders who have developed their beliefs and norms while on the streets” (Hanser, 2013, Worrall and Morris, 2012). Inmates, especially first time offenders are immensely influenced because they are not familiar with the prison culture. Pyrooz, Decker, and Fleisher, 2011). Through interactions with inmates, they are essentially trying to make it in prison. It is important to note that inmates may also have a gang-affiliation outside of prison and has shown to encourage violence within prison (Worrall and Morris, 2012). Regardless of whether they have gang affiliation in or out of prison, the outcome of these associations as DeLisi, Berg, and Hochstetler (2004) states, “criminologist view prison gang involvement as an adaptive niche that is the outcome of structural conditions of prison itself or situational dynamic of prison life. Inmates inevitably integrate into these social dynamics as a result of the prison social system.
Furthermore, the deprivation theory helps explain the emergence of gangs. Deprivation as the name states are the deprivation that results from being in prison (Hanser, 2013). Due to their incarceration, inmates respond to their conditions. The most obvious deprived...