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Can't Escape The Gangs

By Philip Daniel, River North Correctional Center

One topic that affects all prisoners is the proliferation of gangs.

Bloods, crips, and gangsta disciples are the main ones. None of those gangs originated in Va or the east coast for that matter. Individuals from California, New York and Chicago brought that stuff to Va and the kids here ate it up. We all had a slight fascination with gangs and gangbangers growing up in the nineties watching movies like Boys in the Hood, Menace II Society, Colors, etc. We loved listening to west coast rappers like Snoop Dogg, Eazy E, Ice Cube and imitating the images, lingo, and lifestyle of these gangsta rappers. There was no room for them to get a footing in our southern cities back then because we had our own issues with neighborhood vs neighborhood in our respective cities and out of towners were not welcome.

Once the hard liners (old school street guys) began to get locked up during the end of the nineties and early two thousands the rules of the street stopped being enforced. Snitching went to an all time high. Fistfights were replaced with gun play. Weed was replaced by opiates. Out of town guys started moving into neighborhoods and brainwashing the leaderless kids with this fantasy gang stuff. Norfolk was the first major city in VA to become infested with gangs. The average rapper under twenty five is a gang member. The kids don't have diversity in their music intake anymore, the popular artists are preaching the same message to them. They are being told that they need a handgun with an *extension on it.(*that's a clip capable of holding thirty bullets in it.)They are told that they need *loud weed, *pills, and *lean to cope. (*very strong thc, expensive, high quality weed)(*opiates, MDMA, stimulants)(* promethazine, tussionex.)They are told they need sex and lots of it. They then go out and commit these crimes either in the name of the gang or because they are so high out of their mind. Some of these guys couldn't even tell you what they did. They found out from the police or their homies. Being in a gang doesn't allow you to develop properly as a man. Because of the rank and file system, questioning authority is grounds for physical disciplinary action also known as a violation. Being a flunky is encouraged.

These young dudes come to prison and immediately run to the arms of their gang. Its almost instant protection. They have access to amenities like the phone and drugs. They can walk around and act like a tough guy when they really are not. All because the average *civilian doesn't want to deal with a multitude of guys who are part of the gang.(*A prisoner with no gang affiliation.) If you beat a gang member up you may have to fight his buddies too. Once you get out of the hole you may have to fight some more. It can follow you from prison to prison if that particular gang member is popular or high ranking.

At some prisons the gangs have poor leadership and the gangs do a lot of stealing, extortion, and even contract hits. I've seen gang members beat up other prisoners on behalf of the corrections staff! The aforementioned are all violations of gang rules and principles. The origin of crips and bloods was never to oppress civilians! They started as neighborhood advocates. The police were harsh and cruel in their day to day dealings in inner city black and brown neighborhoods. The stuff gangs are doing to neighborhoods now is shameful.

Most prisons have put up extra fences, cut the pod rec capacity in half, and put limits on phone calls just to name a few things, all because of gangs.

They (administrations) know everything going on but they refuse to act on it. The gangs are inadvertently helping the prolockdown staff/admin justify punishing us all. They keep the gang members employed with the jobs which keeps them in charge of pod operations. You get fed by gang members. You give gang members your clothes to be cleaned. They tell the gang members the info concerning the pod and the gang members tell us. It's wicked. There isn't much hope for the future until that is addressed in a substantive and meaningful way.


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