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Chapter 10: Prison Subculture and Prison Gang Influence 265

recently been transferred to your facility from another facility, largely for protective reasons. Jeff has come to you because he is very, very worried. Jeff is a pedophile, and he has been in prison for nearly 8 years on a 15-year sentence. He is expected to gain an early release due to his excellent progress in prison and due to prison overcrowding problems and his own exemplary behavior. He has been in treatment, and, as you look through his case notes, you can tell that he has done very well.

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But there were other inmates at his prior prison facility who did not want to see him get paroled. In fact, it is a powerful inmate gang, and Jeff had received “protection” from this gang in exchange for providing sexual favors to a select trio of inmate gang members. Jeff discloses that, while it was humiliating, he had to do this to survive in the prison subculture, particularly since he was a labeled pedophile. The gang knew this, of course, and used this as leverage to ensure that Jeff was compliant. In fact, the gang never even had to use any physical force whatsoever to gain Jeff’s compliance. Jeff notes that this now bothers him, and he doubts his own sense of masculinity. Jeff also discloses that he has had suicidal ideations as a result of his experiences.

Jeff has performed well in treatment for sex offenders. But Jeff has also been adversely affected by noxious sexual experiences inside the prison. You are the first person that he has disclosed this to. As you listen to his plight, you begin to wonder if his issues with sexuality are actually now more unstable than they were before he entered prison. Though his treatment notes seem convincing, this is common among pedophiles. But not known to the other therapist was how Jeff had engaged in undesired sexual activity while incarcer- ated. This activity has created a huge rift in Jeff’s masculine identity. Will this affect his likelihood for relapse on the outside? Does Jeff need to resolve his concerns with consensual versus forced homosexual activity? You begin to wonder.

Now, as you listen, you realize that if you make mention of this, then the classification system is not likely to release Jeff, and this condemns him to more of the same type of exploitation. The only real option that allows Jeff to be protected from such victimization is placing him in protective custody. However, Jeff ada- mantly refuses such a custody level due to fear that the gang will think that he is an informant who is giving evidence against them; they would essentially seek to kill him. If you do not mention any of this information and thereby allow someone to be released with a highly questionable prognosis, you run the risk of putting the public’s safety at risk.

What would you do?

CROSS-NATIONAL PERSPECTIVE 10.1 Prison Gang Riots and Warfare in Guatemala and El Salvador

which was specifi- cally built to hold gang members in Escuintla, 30 miles south of the capital. A guard and 61 inmates were injured at El Hoyon, and tattooed gang members bleeding from knife wounds were carried from the prison on stretchers.

Escuintla Gov. Luis Munoz said the riot began with the explosion of two grenades.

As explosions echoed from inside the small, converted police barracks in downtown Escuintla on Monday morning, nearby storekeepers rattled metal shutters down over the shop windows and crowds of visitors pressed police for information.

The explosions stopped within an hour. Police first began removing the injured, then the dead.

Gang members staged simultaneous riots in at least seven Guatemalan prisons on Monday (August 2005), attacking rivals with grenades, guns and knives in coordinated chaos that left 31 inmates dead, officials said.

The riots apparently began with attacks by members of the Mara Salvatrucha gang against rivals of the MS-18 gang, said Interior Minister Carlos Vielmann.

He said 31 inmates died before the riots were brought under control shortly after noon.

An Associated Press photographer saw 18 bodies, many riddled with bullet wounds, carried from El Hoyon prison,

 

 

266 Introduction to Corrections

Law enforcement officials say the gangs emerged in Los Angeles and later spread to Central America when crimi- nal migrants were deported back home.

Governments throughout Central America have been waging a campaign against the Mara Salvatrucha and related gangs, tightening laws and throwing thousands of the tattooed gang members into prisons, which have often seen clashes between feuding factions.

In May 2004, a fire swept through a prison in San Pedro Sula, Honduras, killing 107 inmates, most of them Mara Salvatrucha members.

That fire came 13 months after some suspected gang members were locked in their cells, doused with gasoline and set ablaze during a riot at the El Porvenir prison farm near the Honduran city of La Ceiba. Nearly 70 people, includ- ing prisoners, visitors, and guards, were killed.

In El Salvador, riots broke out in February when an alleged gang member was transferred to a top-security facility, and one inmate was killed. In September, 800 gang members rioted at two Salvadoran prisons.

Question 1: Discuss the reach of these gangs throughout their country of origin and even in other countries in the general region.

Question 2: In your opinion, what should these countries do to address the challenges associated with violent prison gangs in their correctional systems? Briefly explain your answer.

SOURCE: “At least 31 killed in Guatemala Prison Gang War.”

Associated Press, August 15, 2005. Used with permission.

Dozens of relatives, many of them the mothers of young gang members wept hysterically as stretchers were carried from the prison. The dead were taken to a morgue. So many were injured that they overflowed the capacity of the two local hospitals, forcing officials to take some elsewhere.

“Constant Communication”

Vielmann said visitors had brought guns into the prisons. “Until we have finished the high-security prisons (now under construction), that problem will persist,” he said.

Speaking about the apparent coordination of the attacks, Vielmann said, “the gangs maintain constant com- munication. They have a Web page and not only synchronize in Guatemala, they synchronize with El Salvador, Honduras and with the United States.”

He said they also use cellular phones and messages passed by prison visitors.

Human Rights Prosecutor Sergio Morales said there was evidence that police had helped gang members smug- gle weapons into El Hoyon.

El Hoyon holds 400 alleged gang members. It was opened at an old police barracks after a December 2002 riot involving gang members at another prison in which 14 inmates died.

In the other riots Monday, three inmates died at the Canada Prison Farm 12 miles further south, and officials said eight died in rioting at Guatemala’s top-security Pavon prison, about 15 miles east of the capital.

Two Stabbings

Two others were stabbed to death at a prison in Mazatenango, 85 miles southwest of the capital, according to officials.

Vielmann said smaller disturbances were quashed at three other prisons.

STUDENT STUDY SITE

Visit the Student Study Site at www.sagepub.com/hanserintro to access links to the videos, audio clips, SAGE journal articles, state rankings, and reference materials noted in this chapter, as well as additional study tools including eFlashcards, web quizzes, and more.

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