While the United States prison system is not the absolute worst in the world, by any stretch of the imagination, a few features that are unique to the United States mean that the country’s carceral institutions face unusual problems not faced by other countries. One of those problems is the threat that criminal gangs pose. While gangs can be found in prison systems throughout the world, they are nowhere more powerful and all-consuming of prison daily life than in the United States.
The gang problem is not uniformly distributed throughout the country’s prisons. In some states, it is much more acute than in others. However, as the nation continues to ethnically diversify, states that were previously all but free of prison gangs, like Maine, are beginning to see the same kinds of dynamics play out in their corrections systems that are taking place in states notorious for gang-infestation, like California.
One of the factors that leads to the formation of prison gangs is ethnic diversity within prison systems. While many parts of the United States serve as a shining example of how multiculturalism can work in a democratic setting, when the most anti-social elements of multiple races are forced together into conditions that closely approximate the combat of war, racial harmony quickly breaks down. Thus, we can see in the state of California strictly enforced rules of racial segregation. Despite the fact that official prison segregation has been struck down by the high courts, de facto segregation persists, and it is ruthlessly internally enforced by the race-based gangs themselves.
The racial element adds fuel to an already raging fire of gang criminality and violence. Today’s prison gangs tend to be highly disciplined, hierarchical and run by competent, intelligent leadership. They also tend to operate more like the Mafia of old than the juvenile street gangs that many people may associate them with. The main concern of almost all prison gangs is not gaining turf or being feared; it is making money.
For all of these reasons, the sudden introduction of illegal cellphones into the nation’s prisons in the 2000s gave these dangerous and highly organized gangs the most effective tool for carrying out their drug-money-fueled mayhem that they could have ever dreamed of. Gang leaders suddenly found themselves able to order the intimidation of witnesses, completion of drug sales and even the assassination of prison guards on the outside, with no interference from guards. Illegal cellphones threatened to completely undermine the security of the nation’s entire criminal justice system by empowering these ruthless gangs.
But now, Securus Technologies has unveiled its Wireless Containment System, a high-tech device capable of shutting down 100 percent of illegal cellular calls made from prisons where it is deployed. With the WCS, Securus is taking back America’s prisons from ruthless gangs.