Prison Gang Law and Legal Definition

The term prison gang is used to refer different types of gang activity inside prisons or correctional facilities. Prison gangs are criminal organizations that originated within the U.S. prison system. They continue to operate within correctional facilities throughout the U.S.

With the intention to take away the recognition and publicity that the term "gang" connotes, law enforcement officers and prison officials often refer to prison gangs as security threat groups. Prison gangs are also self-perpetuating criminal entities that exercise much control and influence over the street gangs outside the confines of the penal system.

Although prison gangs are formed with an intention to protect its members, they do much more in disguise of offering protection. Most often, prison gangs are involved in activities such as handling of controlled substances, assaults, prostitution, and murder. With their role in the transportation and distribution of narcotics, prison gangs are a threat to the nation.

Typically, a prison gang consists of a select group of inmates. Prison gangs have an organized hierarchy and are governed by an established code of conduct. Prison gangs vary in both organization and composition. The Aryan Brotherhood and Nuestra Familia are examples of highly structured gangs. Whereas, the Mexican Mafia (La Eme) is a gang with a less formalized structure. Prison gangs in state correctional facilities are more powerful compared to the gangs within the federal penal system.