How do prison gangs enforce on the outside?

This video (scroll down a while to find it) about the Pelican Bay supermax prison in California has guards saying that gang leader inmates have ordered murders in the outside world, something many other have corroborated. They even have an ex-Navy Seal working there trying to infiltrate gangs and turn the leaders.

DJ, who blogs here, has commented that he has a friend in another California prison whose cell mate is a heroin addict. Yes, he’s shooting heroin inside of prison.

What no one has ever explained, to my knowledge at least, is how does information flow in and out of prisons and how do the drugs get inside? An obvious possibility would be the guards (either willingly or unwillingly) and of course visitors. But visitors, it would seem, would have trouble bringing in enough drugs on a steady basis, so there must be other ways it gets in. And how does the order for a murder from a gang leader get out of a supermax prison into the outside world?

While some guards are no doubt corrupt and others might be threatened into relaying messages and drugs, again, it seems this happens too much for just a few risky channels to be doing most or all of it.

So, what other methods could there be?

  • DJ

    When visiting a California prison, you empty yoyr pockets, pass through a metal detector, and take off your shoes, belt, glasses, etc, for inspection. But no one actually checks to make sure your pockets are empty. Nor do they check your socks or your mouth, both common hiding places for drugs. (I used to know people who could hold a significant amount of heroin in balloons in their mouth and stuill carry on a conversation.)

    In the visiting room, inmates are required to sit facing the desk where two guards stand watch. The tables are all shorter than knee height, so nothing is hidden. But there is usually an outside patio they can walk in. Hugs and handshalkes are permitted, and sometimes with their wives or girlfriends they get pretty intimate. They’re not supposed to, but depending on the guards they may get some leeway. So passing drugs would be easy.

    It wouldn’t surprise me (though I have no direct knowledge) if this is how the flow is maintained. If so, it could not be stopped without a lot of invasive searching of visitors– which would (rightly) result in a public outcry.

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