The Social Order of the Underworld: How Prison Gangs Govern the American Penal System

Paperback | June 18, 2014

byDavid Skarbek

not yet rated|write a review
This book challenges the widely held view that inmates create prison gangs to promote racism and violence. On the contrary, gangs form to create order. Most people assume that violent inmates left to themselves will descend into a chaotic anarchy, but that's not necessarily the case. This bookstudies the hidden order of the prison underworld to understand how order arises among outlaws. It uses economics to explore the secret world of the convict culture, inmate hierarchy, and prison gang politics. Inmates engaged in illegal activity cannot rely entirely on state-based governanceinstitutions, such as courts of law and the police, to create order. Correctional officers will not resolve a dispute over a heroin deal gone wrong or help kill a predatory rapist. Yet, the inmate social system is relatively orderly and underground markets flourish. In today's prisons, gangs play a pivotal role in protecting inmates and facilitating illicit commerce. They have sophisticated internal structures and often rely on elaborate written constitutions. To maintain social order, gangs adjudicate conflicts and orchestrate strategic acts of violence tonegotiate the competing demands of inmates, gang members, and correctional officers. This book uses economics to explain why prison gangs form, how formal institutions affect them, and why they have a powerful influence even over crime beyond prison walls. Economics explains the seeminglyirrational, truly astonishing, and often tragic world of life among the society of captives.

Pricing and Purchase Info

$30.92 online
$30.95 list price
In stock online
Ships free on orders over $25

From the Publisher

This book challenges the widely held view that inmates create prison gangs to promote racism and violence. On the contrary, gangs form to create order. Most people assume that violent inmates left to themselves will descend into a chaotic anarchy, but that's not necessarily the case. This bookstudies the hidden order of the prison unde...

David Skarbek is a Lecturer in the Department of Political Economy at King's College London. His research examines extralegal governance and the economics of crime and punishment. He received his Ph.D. in Economics at George Mason University. He grew up in San Jose California and now lives in London.
Format:PaperbackDimensions:248 pages, 9.25 × 6.12 × 0.68 inPublished:June 18, 2014Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199328501

ISBN - 13:9780199328505

Look for similar items by category:

Customer Reviews of The Social Order of the Underworld: How Prison Gangs Govern the American Penal System

Reviews

Extra Content

Table of Contents

Acknowledgements1. Governance Institutions and the Prison CommunityMen's Central Jail2. The Convict CodeDeath Row3. The Rise of Prison GangsMy Brother's Keeper4. Governance in the Society of CaptivesBackground Check5. The Internal Organization of Prison GangsMacArthur Park6. How Prison Gangs Govern the OutsidePuppet7. What Works?References