David Pyrooz, an associate professor of sociology at CU Boulder and a faculty associate at IBS, recently published a book that explores the inner workings of prison gangs. Pyrooz, along with his co-author, spent nine months interviewing inmates at two of the oldest prisons in Texas. In his book, Competing for Control: Gangs and the Social Orders of Prison, he breaks down some of the stereotypes surrounding prison gangs and gang members, and explores what gangs can and can’t offer from the eyes of actual members.
As gang-related violence and homicide in prison begins to rise, Pyrooz encourages people to think about how former prisoners might assimilate back into society after they are released. “Do you want them to leave on better or worse terms than when they arrived?” He asks. He suggests that if the prison system provided things inmates need from the beginning- such as safety and community- they would never turn to gangs in the first place. Read more about David Pyrooz’s findings from his book here.