Locked Down: Gangs in the Supermax by Michael Montgomery Essay

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Pelican Bay Supermax

Pelican Bay Supermax

After listening to and or reading the transcripts of Locked Down: Gangs in the Supermax by Michael Montgomery, one gets a glimpse of prison life, sociological issues inmates and staff face, and the subculture of prison life faced by staff and prisoners alike on a daily basis. However, instead of delving completely in to the situational circumstances of prisoner life, it is more important to understand the history of this Supermax prison and why it was constructed to begin with. Further, it is important to understand the philosophy of the need for the Secure Housing Unit, which is the most secure and isolated portion of Pelican Bay Prison.
Pelican Bay Prison was designed, constructed and
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Being confined in the SHU for years on end is almost looked-up upon by gang members and they feel that they too have a destiny with the SHU of Pelican Bay. Many gang related activities are directly controlled by the gang leaders in the SHU. Although prison staff attempt to block outgoing gang orders, many get through with surprising regularity. Orders such as murdering rival gang members, prison guards, and civilians are often traced directly back to those inmates in the SHU.
There are ways that prisoners in the SHU can be placed into a less restricted area. This area is separate from the general population, yet more restrictive. Former SHU members must be able to get along with other former members, including prior rival gang members and mixed races. To be allowed to leave the SHU, members must show for a period of 6 years that they have no gang affiliations. They can not communicate in any way with other gang members either inside or outside the SHU. Another way that they can leave is through a lengthy debriefing process with prison staff as to their criminal gang history, plans, known members, names, tattoos, and so forth. This debriefing can take hours and information must be validated before a prisoner can actually be removed. Members in the SHU claim that it is impossible to not associate with other gang members and therefore the only realistic hope of leaving the SHU is through a debriefing process.
For every gang member that

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