In the Bureau of Prisons, a variety of gangs exist, recruiting prisoners into their ranks like fraternities and calling shots on compounds across the nation. Joining a gang is not a prerequisite in the feds, but still a lot of prisoners take advantage of the benefits a prison gang offers. These perks include protection, strength in numbers, control of prison rackets like drugs, gambling and hooch, power, prestige and respect. It is a whole culture unto itself, where if you buy into it, you have to buy in fully, because there is no half-assing it in prison gangs.
Out of all the benefits available respect is the greatest currency, because without respect in prison you can get extorted, punked out and even sexually assaulted. This is why it is better to be feared than loved on the inside and gang members are usually the most feared convicts on the yard, because prisoners know if they cross someone who’s affiliated, it’s not only that individual that they have beef with. The whole gang will inherit the beef and sooner or later the person who crossed the gang member will pay, most likely with a shank in the back.
With prison being like a fish bowl, prisoners never know where they might end up and who will be there. Prisoners are always getting transferred in and out of institutions and they never know who will be rolling in on that bus. That makes the threat of the gang immediate and everlasting. News travels fast in the system and beefing with a prison gang can result in getting your head busted open by someone you have never met, but who has identified you and is planning your demise.
For whites there are a lot of gangs they can join if they so chose- the Aryan Brotherhood, Dirty White Boys, Aryan Circle, Nazi Low Riders, Aryan Brotherhood of Texas, Public Enemy #1, and Aryan Nation, among others. White boy gangs come in many shapes and sizes, depending on where you are from and what your personal style is. All of these gangs are prison and race based. The only qualifications to join are that you have to be white and not a snitch or chomo. A proclivity for violence helps.
On most compounds, white gangs with their numbers, dedication to the cause and organization, run the white boy car. The white boy car is the unofficial umbrella that all the whites are under for political purposes. Prison politics can involve many things like who gets greenlighted, who runs the dope, who runs the rackets like poker tables, stores, loan sharking, it can get complicated. In prison, it’s all about politics and whoever runs the white boy car is in effect, responsible for all the white prisoners on the compound. The shotcaller for the whites is a position of power, prestige and respect. The prisoner who calls the shots for the whites can influence and determine what happens on the yard, concerning the whites, in every imaginable way, and in the volatile world of prison, that is the ultimate power.
“Different gangs have different yards that they control,” Big Mike, a 34-year-old penitentiary veteran from Virginia, who has served two bids in the feds for drugs and guns, tells us. “Like the AB are strong out in Cali and some of the older penitentiaries like Leavenworth, Lewisburg and Atlanta. The DWB’s are real deep on the East Coast in joints like Big Sandy, Lee and Terre Haute. And then you got the ABT that dominates the Texas prison like Beaumont and other southern joints. But certain gangs can’t walk on certain yards.”
With alliances and beefs between the race based gangs over shifting and changing, the dynamics of prison politics alter life in the netherworld of corruption and violence in a nanosecond. As the power structure shifts and alliances change, different gangs come into power and certain individuals are greenlighted and put out of their misery. It can be a viscous circle of mistrust, paranoia and Machiavellian scheming. Eventually the majority of whites, who weren’t in gangs, got tired of the changing regimes and dealing with the fall out of the rivalries between the white boy gangs and decided to do something about it.
“At a lot of joints in the feds all the white boys, who weren’t associated, got together and decided that the guys in the gangs couldn’t walk,” Big Mike says. “They took over the yards for independent white boys. They were sick of all the infighting between the gangs about who was going to call the shots for the whites, so they checked in all the gang members and made it know that independents were running the yard and nobody associated with gangs could walk on the mainline anymore.” By checking in the white gang members and making them go to the hole, the independent whites seized power on their respective yards and held it for themselves. They refused to be under the wing or in cars run by the gang leaders, who acted as shotcallers for all the whites. Whether they were in gangs or not. And the vast majority of whites, who weren’t in gangs had no voice.
“It was sorta like government with no representation. There were a lot of problems,” Big Mike says. “These dudes in the gangs were making decisions for all the whites without even asking them what they thought. If you are a shot caller you are supposed to be fair and do the right thing for the white boy car. But too many times the shotcallers would look out for members of their gang and give them preferential treatment. It didn’t matter if the dude in their gang was totally in the wrong or out of order, the shotcaller would side with them, just because they were in the same gang or an allied gang. They would also attempt to discredit any whites that were in rival gangs or any who they thought was a threat to their power or a threat to take over the yard.”
Prison is a Machiavellian and cutthroat world where the strong prey on the weak but shotcallers, if they want to remain in power, must abide by the convict code and all its nuances. It can get very complicated, if someone is in the wrong and you have proof you can get them, but if you have no proof you just can’t get them because you want to. There would be too much fallout. If the gangs see strength in someone else they will try to get rid of them rather than confront them. They will attempt to discredit them in some way. It’s all about the right now. Because in prison new faces are always transferring in and old faces are transferred elsewhere. It’s like a revolving door. If a gang not in power gets the numbers than they will take over. That is how the politics work. More soldiers and bodies equals more power for the gangs.
But in the vast majorities of prisons the gang members are really the minority. There might be 15 ABT members in a prison with a population of 2000, 600 of that number being whites. So the minority of 15 ABT members call the shots for the other 585 whites. “The gangs can do this because wherever a prisoner goes in the system the gang members have brothers that got no problem sticking someone with a shank if that person is greenlighted by the gang,” Big Mike says. “They also can do this because of the fear they generate due to their affiliation and notoriety.”
Gangs like the Aryan Brotherhood are known to do whatever it takes to dispatch their enemies, even stabbing them in the chowhall at lunch in plain view of C/O’s and the administrative staff, insuring that they will be caught and possibly prosecuted for their assault. They do this to illicit fear, giving off the perception that they don’t give a fuck, but it’s all calculated to enhance the gang’s stature and image. It used to be only the elite of the whites, the most fearsome and crème of the crop, where accepted into the gangs. That’s why their reputation was so fierce. A single member of the infamous Aryan Brotherhood from California could come on any compound nationwide and show his shamrock tattoo that designated membership, and being given the keys to the white boy car, no questions asked. That was because the original Aryan Brotherhood was known to be straight killers. But more often than not, other gangs have traded off this notoriety, even when their actions don’t meet the infamy of the originals.
“A lot of what they call independents now, white boys with no affiliation, don’t want no problems,” Big Mike says. “They just want to do their time in the less conflictive way they can and go home. But it got to the point with the gangs that the independents said enough is enough. They were tired of seeing the gang members manipulate and twist the system to suit their favor. These dudes got life too, just like the gang members and if a dude is a man, he can only take so much. So the independents flexed their muscles.”
The independents are usually made up of prisoners from the same geographical location. There might be the Missouri car, the East Coast car, the West Coast car, the Georgia car, the Alabama car, the Virginia car and so on, depending on where the federal prison is located. Usually whatever state it is in, that is the biggest car, as the feds try to keep prisoner within 500 miles of their home address or where they were convicted at. When a prison gang like the ABT is calling the shots and the majority of independents decide they don’t like their leadership they band together in a coalition of cars from different areas and take over the yard, checking the ABT members in and letting it be known that they can’t walk the yard and furthermore, from that point on, no gang members can walk the yard.
“That is why today, independents are the biggest white boy gang in the feds, even though they are not officially a gang,” Big Mike says. “When the feds ask me who I run with, I always say independent because the character of the dudes in the gangs have gotten so bad that the independents just had enough of it. The gangs were formed to protect the whites in prison and these dudes turned it into a power thing where they would extort their own people.” So now the responsibility of leadership has been seized back from the gangs in a power move that is happening in prison across the nation.