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Trump and Sessions Don’t Realize That Republican Policies Are Behind the Explosive Growth of Violent Prison Gangs

July 17, 2018 in Blogs

By Alex Henderson, AlterNet

Republicans who are applauding Trump and Sessions for being “tough on crime” need to take a close look at the history of prison gangs in California.


President Donald Trump has not been shy about using the Mara Salvatrucha, a.k.a. MS-13, and Mexican drug cartels to terrify his base and warn them that only Republicans offer genuine protection from all the gang members and drug dealers he insists are coming across the border in droves. And Attorney General Jeff Sessions is a long-time champion of mass incarceration, the War on Drugs and the Prison/Industrial Complex. In fact, stocks in two privately owned prison companies, CoreCivic and Geo Group, doubled in value after Trump won 2016’s presidential election. 

But Republicans who are applauding Trump and Sessions for being “tough on crime” need to take a close look at the history of prison gangs in California. And if they’re intellectually honest, they will realize that policies of mass incarceration—which were championed by the Reagan administration in the 1980s and continued by Democratic President Bill Clinton in the 1990s—caused violent prison gangs like the Mexican Mafia, a.k.a. la Éme, and the Aryan Brotherhood to increase in size and power.

The Mexican Mafia—which, despite its name, originated in California, not Mexico—and the Aryan Brotherhood were around long before Reagan’s presidency. La Éme was founded in 1957, while the Aryan Brotherhood started in San Quentin State Prison in 1964. But when Reagan greatly expanded the War on Drugs with mass incarceration, militarized policing and draconian prison sentences for drug-related offenses, having a lot more prisoners meant a lot more people for prison gangs to recruit. The Mexican Mafia is believed to have around 350 or 400 official members and around 990 associates, which is a lot more than they had in the 1960s.

In California, prison gangs are divided into two categories: sureños (which means “southerners” in Spanish) and norteños (Spanish for “northern”). The sureños are associated with Southern California, while norteño prison gangs like Nuestra Familia are more associated with Northern California. La Éme are bitter rivals of Nuestra Familia as well as the Black …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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