Gang Control, Management, and Administrative Segregation

In addition to the physical security of the facility, there are many psychological aspects of controlling gang activity. For instance, the immediate tendency of corrections officials may be to restrict privileges for gang-related inmates. But, as Fleisher (2008) notes, with- drawing incentives or placing these inmates in long-term states of restricted movement can have financial and social consequences for the prison facility. For instance, in Texas, many gang-related inmates are kept in administrative segregation. Administrative segregation is a security status that is intended to keep the assigned inmate from having contact with the general population. It is not punitive in nature, like solitary confinement. This custody status is intended to protect the general population from the inmate in segregation. However, this form of custody is very expensive.

Further, there is a tendency for prison systems that use administrative segregation to house inmates of the same gang in the same area. This prevents them from coming into contact with enemy gang members yet cuts costs that would ensue if they were kept on different cell blocks or dormitories. But doing this replicates the street gang culture as they are all together but with geographic isolation (i.e., one neighbor- hood, one gang) where there is one cell block and one gang. In other words, this can build solidarity for the group. This can also lead to problematic behaviors where inmates exercise power (through the gang rank structure) over a cell block or dormitory, encouraging security to work with those in power to maintain compliance over the other lower-ranking inmates of that gang. Naturally, this should be avoided because it validates the gang’s power and undermines the security staff. Fleisher (2008) notes that other problematic behaviors can also emerge. For instance, gangs may attempt to run cell blocks, “sell” cells on the cell block, or “own” territory on the recreation yard. This simply reinforces their feeling that they have power over the institution. This should be avoided.

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