“How Gangs Took Over Prisons”

This article describes a situation that is similar to what happens in a neighborhood controlled by the Mafia. Monopolies and cartels raise the prices of the products they sell by restricting supply. This is usually a bad outcome. However, when the product is crime or violence there are benefits to restricting supply.

(Via Instapundit.)

6 thoughts on ““How Gangs Took Over Prisons””

  1. The only measure that I see that could help is to reduce prison time for non-violent offense.

    A movie that I like, but which is likely very unrealistic, is “An Innocent Man” with Tom Selleck from 1989.

  2. Drug prohibition has created an enormous underground black market controlled by criminal gangs which are much more numerous, powerful and violent than anything seen in the past, including the legendary 20’s and 30’s.

    The endless proliferation of laws at all levels has resulted in huge increases in the number of “criminals”, many of whom are not doing things previously understood to be crimes.

    The same advocates who dismantled our mental health system have tirelessly obstructed any effective measures against the activities of criminals within prisons, many of whom are either chemically dependent, mentally ill, or both. Therefore, the simple step of isolating dangerous gang people in solitary confinement is rendered impossible in most cases.

    At some future point, the depth and pervasive nature of the corruption and legal perversion brought about by the enormous amounts of wealth the drug war has poured into the pockets of criminal gangs, and then into the bank accounts of their enablers in “respectable” society, will be unearthed and reported.

    At this point in the collapse of journalism, we must make due with lame and tentative documentaries and sanitized reports about the evils of the gangs or the terrible conditions in our prisons, just so long as no one talks about anything too serious or threatening to the legal and political systems that have created this monstrosity.

  3. The article fascinates; massive numbers that led to this “ordering” resulted from the war on drugs – but if it was overkill, the crack years had their horrors. And doesn’t this remind us of what we know about human nature – hardened criminals, too, want to communicate, to live with some predictability, desire peace? While the role of razors and anal cavities shocks, the priority of quiet doesn’t.

  4. Just to be clear, I’m not arguing for control of prisons by criminal gangs. I’m merely suggesting that the current situation in the prisons has some benefits as compared to anarchy. I’d much prefer a legal system where drug possession and use and many other consensual activities were decriminalized, far fewer Americans were incarcerated and prisons were better run and less brutal.

  5. Given size, bureaucracy, relative power differentials of government/inmate, tribal instincts/individuality, etc. what would be meant by well run? That they can be better run, as you observe, is certainly true. That they can be smaller, too.
    20 years ago or more, a PBS News Hour segment argued that the prisoners seemed cowed in Texas, a repressive system. This was countered by those institution’s lower level of violence, markedly fewer murders for instance. Perhaps life doesn’t trump freedom, but it trumps a hell of a lot.

  6. I am dismayed by the frequency of statements by the average person that say “well – they get what they deserve in prison by being beaten and raped”. I’ve had people from my old neighborhood that ended up in prison because they never received the proper psychological help. It is a sad testament indeed, that our Nation’s number one health provider, for the mentally ill, is our prison system.

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