Have you ever wonder what happens inside the prison? I have. The curiosity was present every time I drove by our local prison called the Arizona State Prison Complex – Yuma. That same curiosity was the one that helped me decided I wanted to be a Correctional Officer. Yes, I have often heard that there are gang fights inside . In fact, that in some state prisons gang violence is tough. I once read in an article that mentioned how this gangs are the biggest nightmare to the officers. I came to a conclusion on how the members of this gangs should have been sentenced in prison for a long time. Prison gangs are structured with one being the leader and he is who makes the decisions for the rest of the group. I wonder, “ Could there be something done to reduce gang violence inside the prison?
I recall one afternoon when going through my Facebook I saw lots of posts in regards to our prison, mentioning how police officers along with ambulances were heading to the Arizona State Prison Complex . I remember reading on the posts that some of the inmates were now fugitives. When reading that I was nervous since I live near the prison . I went to the San Luis Arizona page and it calmed me to see how the rumors of the supposedly inmates escaping were not true. In this riot it took approximately three hours for officers to put that place safe. As a result from this riot 26 inmates and 11 prison employees were injured. Approximately 600 of the little more than 1,000 inmates from the Cheyenne unit in the ASPC were involved in this riot . The riot that happened a Thursday afternoon got one inmate killed, who was also part of this misfortune. Setting fires and being thrown rocks at, was how the correctional officers from the Arizona State Prison Complex of Yuma were being attacked. ( Arizona Department of Corrections )
While doing my research over this topic I came across many gang names from prisons in Arizona. Mexican Mafia was the name for a gang formed of Hispanic prisoners years ago in Florence , Arizona . Now recent prisoners fight over the name claiming to be the “New Mexican Mafia” and other being “ Old Mexican Mafia”. They enter into argument trying to win victory over the title “Mexican Mafia”. The members of this gang are recognized by officers when seeing their symbolic tattoo that every person in this gang is required to have . If one desires to be part of the gang they have to show their potentials, that’s what the leaders and members look at. In this types of decisions made the rest of the members not only the leaders have a chance to suggest whether or not to let them in. However, when trying to be part of this gang you should make an oath of loyalty. Not just a simple promising oath but a blood oath, for them to be sure of your loyalty. They call this procedure a blood in- blood out rule . They refer to blood-out to getting out of the gang. In some cases, leaders request for a suicide to look natural from the person willing to get out.
When asking an expert on the topic, in this case a Correctional Officer, “ Has there been a case or problem in the prison that has impacted you.” Officer Lopez respond, “Yes, when I worked in the Maximum Security in Florence Complex, Inmates trying to commit suicide by cutting themselves everyday.” ( Lopez ) .When done with the interview, I was intrigued by the answer I had been given, and again my curiosity in known more came to play. He said that the prison has some cells on top and others at the bottom, a total of 8 individuals started to cut themselves at the same time . What you could see in that moment were correctional officers running and trying to stopping them, blood dripping. He said he was incharge of taking one of them to the hospital. “ Something unexpected at the moment.” ( Officer Lopez )
Another well-known gang is the Aryan Brotherhood also called the “AB”. This gang consisted of “white” members. This Brotherhood wanted to fight back the threats of the “ black” inmates and the hispanics. The Aryan Brotherhood gang claimed that they were taken advantage of. They were sexually abused of. In fact, Arizona State Prison Complex- Yuma contains both gangs. However, the leaders who actually started these gangs are located in the prison of Florence, Arizona. What you find in this Yuma Complex are the leaders who are continuing with the gang but not the ones who actually started it. They were chosen leaders by the rest of the group members. This same tradition if we can call it that, as well applies to the other famous gang Mexican Mafia , who’s creators are not the leaders seen at the Arizona State Prison Complex-Yuma.
After interviewing a Correctional Officer, who’s also a Special Security Unit, and has been in the Law Enforcement Agency for 15 years , he has confirmed what I mentioned . The Officer said that both gangs do exist in the Arizona State Prison Complex- Yuma. In my interest to knowing how they were acting towards eliminating the violence between these two gangs I asked, “ What kind of help do you provide to an individual to keep them away from the gangs?” Officer Lopez , Immediately answered back, “ There are several classes and sports they can perform on a daily basis. There is a GED program, Cultural Diversity, Narcotic Anonymous, Alcoholic anonymous, as well as sports would involve softball, soccer, and basketball.” (Lopez) .
I have frequently seen how a few inmates are taken out of the prison to clean the streets of San Luis Arizona . They are of course being watched. With them they carry work tools, for example a rake, shovel, and plastic bags. They can from far be noticed and recognized by their orange suits. Whenever I happen to see them, I ask myself “ Wouldn’t it be easy for them to try and run away.” But no, they wouldn’t do that. The people who are taken out to the streets are those individuals who are almost released from the prison . It would not be convenient for them to try an escape and get more years in prison when they are almost done with it. I believe this to be a good distraction from the gangs, since they go out and do another activity not provided inside the prison.
Although, I think many will disagree with me . Some may think that this is like taking a risk . That they might escape. That it is too dangerous. I disagree with that, they are being watched over, they are not alone. For them going out to a different surrounding may be a way to let the stress that has been accumulated for who knows how many years of being in the same place doing the same activities out . We might dislike cleaning, but maybe for them it’s way opposite.