Jail guard Amara Brown admits to DoorDash delivery for inmate
Guard Amara Brown at Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center is charged with using DoorDash to deliver a meal to an inmate.
17 Jun 2023, Prisons, by
Discover the dangerous world of Alabama prison gangs and their impact on the state’s correctional system.
In recent years, the issue of prison gangs has become an increasingly urgent concern within the state of Alabama. These groups are known to cause trouble both within and outside of correctional facilities, perpetuating a cycle of violence that can be difficult to break. In this article, we will dive into the history, structure, impact, and possible solutions to the problem of prison gangs in Alabama.
Prison gangs have been a part of the Alabama penal system since the 1970s when the first gangs emerged. Back then, these groups were primarily focused on race, with white and black groups forming along racial lines. However, over time, the gangs have evolved and diversified, with members recruiting new members through offering protection and other incentives.
One of the most significant turning points occurred in 1983, when a riot erupted at the Elmore Correctional Facility. This incident resulted in the deaths of three inmates and marked the beginning of a new era of gang violence and conflict within Alabama prisons.
Since then, prison gangs in Alabama have become more organized and sophisticated, with some even operating outside of prison walls. These gangs have been known to engage in drug trafficking, extortion, and even murder. The Alabama Department of Corrections has implemented various measures to combat gang activity, including the use of intelligence gathering and segregation of gang members. However, the problem persists, and gang violence remains a significant issue within the state’s prison system.
In the decades since that initial riot, the prevalence of prison gangs in Alabama has only increased. Today, it is estimated that more than 2,500 inmates within the state’s correctional facilities are active members of one or more gangs.
The consequences of these gangs’ activities can be seen throughout the prison system, with violence and intimidation becoming commonplace. Indeed, the incidence of violence among Alabama prisoners is nearly double the national average, and many of these conflicts are directly related to gang activity.
One of the main reasons for the rise of prison gangs in Alabama is the overcrowding of correctional facilities. With more inmates than the system can handle, gangs have been able to establish themselves as a means of protection and survival. Additionally, the lack of resources and programming within the prisons has left many inmates with few options for personal growth and development, making them more susceptible to gang recruitment.
The state of Alabama has recognized the issue of prison gangs and has implemented various measures to combat their influence. These include increased security measures, such as the use of body scanners and surveillance cameras, as well as the creation of specialized units to investigate and disrupt gang activity. However, the problem persists, and many advocates argue that more needs to be done to address the root causes of gang involvement and reduce the overall prison population.
Like many similar organizations, prison gangs in Alabama are hierarchical, with leaders exerting significant influence over their members. In some cases, these leaders are able to direct their members to carry out illegal activities both within and outside of prison walls.
In addition to their leaders, the gangs themselves are often organized into smaller subsets based on geography, particular criminal activities, or shared ideologies. These subsets may also be hierarchical within themselves, with different members holding varying amounts of power.
One of the most common ways that prison gangs in Alabama recruit new members is through coercion or intimidation. This can include threats of violence or promises of protection, particularly for vulnerable inmates such as those who are new to the prison system or who have been convicted of sex crimes.
Despite efforts by prison officials to crack down on gang activity, prison gangs in Alabama continue to be a significant problem. In addition to their involvement in illegal activities, they can also contribute to a culture of fear and violence within the prison system, making it difficult for inmates to rehabilitate and reintegrate into society upon release.
The prevalence of prison gangs within Alabama also has significant consequences for efforts to rehabilitate inmates. Gang members often resist participating in educational or vocational programs offered by the prison, instead prioritizing their loyalty to the gang and its activities.
Furthermore, the fear of retaliation for leaving a gang can be a significant barrier to inmates’ successful reintegration into society upon their release. For these reasons and more, it is of utmost importance to address the issue of prison gangs in Alabama in order to increase the effectiveness of rehabilitation efforts.
One potential solution to address the issue of prison gangs is to provide specialized programming and support for gang members who are willing to leave the gang lifestyle. This could include counseling, mentorship, and job training programs specifically tailored to the needs of former gang members. By providing a pathway for these individuals to successfully transition out of the gang, the likelihood of successful rehabilitation and reintegration into society can be greatly increased.
The Alabama Department of Corrections has implemented a variety of strategies to combat prison gang activity. These approaches include the use of specialized intelligence units tasked with monitoring gang activity, severing communication lines between gang members, and preventing the flow of illegal contraband into correctional facilities.
Moreover, many prisons have implemented programs designed to provide gang members with alternatives to gang life. These programs offer counseling and opportunities to develop new skills, with the aim of decreasing the appeal of gang membership and reducing recidivism rates among gang-affiliated inmates.
In addition to these strategies, the Alabama Department of Corrections has also increased staff training on gang identification and intervention. This training equips staff with the knowledge and skills necessary to identify gang activity and intervene before it escalates.
Furthermore, the department has established partnerships with community organizations and law enforcement agencies to address gang activity both inside and outside of correctional facilities. These partnerships allow for a coordinated effort to combat gang activity and provide support for individuals seeking to leave gang life behind.
Another key issue contributing to the prevalence of prison gangs in Alabama is the trafficking and use of illegal drugs and other contraband within correctional facilities. Gangs play a major role in the distribution and sale of these goods, with members often using violence and intimidation to maintain control over the drug trade.
Efforts to address this issue have included increased security measures such as digital scanners and drug detection dogs, as well as the implementation of programs aimed at reducing addiction and drug use among inmates. However, progress has been slow, and the problem of drugs and contraband within Alabama prisons remains a significant concern.
In addition to the distribution and sale of drugs and contraband, prison gangs also use these illegal goods as a means of control and manipulation over other inmates. Gang members may offer drugs to vulnerable individuals as a way to recruit them into the gang or to coerce them into carrying out tasks on behalf of the gang.
Furthermore, the use of drugs and contraband can lead to increased violence and instability within correctional facilities. Inmates under the influence of drugs may become more aggressive and unpredictable, leading to conflicts with other inmates or with prison staff.
As noted earlier, the issue of race has historically been a driving factor in the formation and organization of prison gangs in Alabama. Today, this dynamic remains relevant, with many prison gangs still divided along racial lines.
This divisive, us-vs-them mentality can contribute to increased racial tensions and conflicts, leading to further violence and instability within correctional facilities. Addressing this issue requires careful attention and action, including efforts to increase communication and understanding between different racial and ethnic groups within the prison population.
Furthermore, gang activity within Alabama prisons is not limited to just racial divisions. Many gangs form based on shared criminal activities or geographic locations, leading to a complex web of alliances and rivalries. This can create a volatile environment where violence can erupt at any moment.
To combat this, prison officials must not only address racial tensions but also work to disrupt gang activity and prevent the formation of new gangs. This can include measures such as separating known gang members, increasing surveillance, and providing education and job training programs to help inmates transition back into society.
There are a variety of prison gangs operating within Alabama, each with its own particular history, structure, and set of activities. Some of the most notorious gangs include the Aryan Brotherhood, the Black Guerilla Family, the Latin Kings, and the Gangster Disciples.
These gangs are known for engaging in a variety of illicit activities within Alabama prisons, from drug trafficking to extortion and violence. Each presents its unique set of challenges to correctional authorities seeking to mitigate their impact on the state’s prison system.
The Aryan Brotherhood, one of the most well-known prison gangs in Alabama, was founded in the 1960s and is known for its white supremacist ideology. Members of the gang have been involved in numerous violent incidents both inside and outside of prison walls. The Black Guerilla Family, on the other hand, was founded in California in the 1960s as a political organization aimed at fighting racism and oppression. However, the group has since evolved into a criminal enterprise involved in drug trafficking and other illegal activities.
The Latin Kings, originally founded in Chicago in the 1940s, have a significant presence in Alabama’s prison system. The gang is known for its use of symbols and colors, as well as its strict hierarchy and code of conduct. Finally, the Gangster Disciples, founded in Chicago in the 1960s, have a presence in several states, including Alabama. The gang is known for its involvement in drug trafficking and other criminal activities, as well as its use of hand signs and symbols to communicate with members.
To gain a better understanding of the realities of life inside Alabama’s correctional facilities, we spoke with several former gang members who spent time behind bars within the state. These individuals shared their experiences and shed light on the challenges and opportunities encountered by those seeking to leave the gang life behind.
Through these interviews, we came to understand firsthand the complex web of social and structural factors that lead individuals to join prison gangs—and the difficulties of finding a way out of these organizations once they are involved.
One former gang member we spoke with, who wished to remain anonymous, described the intense pressure he faced to join a gang upon entering prison. He explained that without the protection and support of a gang, he feared for his safety and well-being. However, once he joined, he found it nearly impossible to leave, as the gang demanded loyalty and obedience above all else.
Another former gang member we interviewed, who has since successfully left the gang life behind, emphasized the importance of education and job training programs within prisons. He explained that these programs provided him with the skills and knowledge necessary to secure employment and build a new life outside of prison walls.
The impact of prison gangs extends beyond the prison walls and into the lives of the families of those involved. When a loved one becomes involved with a gang, family members often face a range of challenges, from financial difficulties to legal and personal safety concerns.
It is crucial to acknowledge and address these difficulties, offering support and resources to families affected by the scourge of prison gang activity within Alabama.
One of the biggest challenges that families face when a loved one becomes involved with a prison gang is the stigma and isolation that comes with it. Family members may feel ashamed or embarrassed to talk about their situation with others, leading to a sense of loneliness and isolation. This can be especially difficult for children, who may not understand why their parent or sibling is suddenly absent or behaving differently.
Preventing young people from joining prison gangs in the first place is one of the most effective ways to address the problem of gang activity within Alabama’s correctional facilities. To achieve this goal, education and community outreach initiatives are essential.
These efforts must include increased awareness among young people and their families about the risks and consequences of joining a prison gang, as well as the provision of alternatives to gang involvement such as mentoring programs, after-school activities, and job training opportunities.
Another important step in preventing young people from joining prison gangs is to address the root causes of gang involvement, such as poverty, lack of access to education, and exposure to violence. This requires a comprehensive approach that involves not only the criminal justice system but also social services, community organizations, and schools.
Furthermore, it is crucial to provide support and resources to those who have already been involved in gang activity and are trying to leave the gang lifestyle. This can include counseling, job training, and access to education and housing. By helping former gang members reintegrate into society, we can reduce the likelihood of them returning to prison and perpetuating the cycle of gang activity.
The issue of prison gangs is not unique to Alabama, and many other states have faced similar challenges in addressing this problem. Comparing the approaches taken by different states can provide insight into potential solutions and best practices for addressing this issue more effectively in Alabama.
These comparisons reveal that building strong partnerships between law enforcement and community organizations is one of the most promising paths forward. By working together, different stakeholders can bring their unique perspectives and skills to bear, creating a more comprehensive and effective response to the issue of prison gangs.
One state that has had success in addressing prison gangs is California. In the 1990s, California faced a significant problem with prison gangs, particularly the Mexican Mafia. However, through a combination of intelligence gathering, targeted prosecutions, and collaboration between law enforcement agencies, California was able to significantly reduce the power and influence of these gangs within the state’s prison system.
Looking ahead, it is clear that the issue of prison gangs will continue to be a major concern within the Alabama correctional system. However, with increased attention and resources focused on addressing this challenge, there are reasons for hope.
By strengthening community partnerships, developing more effective educational and rehabilitation programs, and implementing innovative strategies to prevent gang activity, we can create a safer, more secure prison system for both inmates and correctional staff alike.
One promising approach to reducing gang activity within the Alabama prison system is the use of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) programs. These programs aim to help inmates identify and change negative thought patterns and behaviors that may contribute to their involvement in gangs. By addressing underlying issues such as low self-esteem, lack of impulse control, and difficulty managing emotions, CBT can help inmates develop the skills they need to resist gang pressure and make positive choices for their future.
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