Prison Gang Initiation

The recruitment techniques of gangs vary from gang to gang, but generally, they have some common recruitment techniques and requirements. Many prison gangs have a generalized standard of who to accept. Prison gangs typically have rules on how to gain admission to the gang.

Mexican Mafia Gang member.

Gang initiation typically has a “homeboy” requirement, that is, one of the other members can testify that they know the character of the prospective recruit and thus whether or not he deserves initiation. (Fong 41) This requirement, which exists in the case of the Texas Syndicate and Mexican Mafia for example, serves as a means of sponsorship, so therefore anyone interested in joining the gang, their trustworthiness can be verified if a current gang member is familiar with them.  Once a gang member is initiated, the recruit is under a “blood in blood out oath” whereas, they typically make a cut on their arm to symbolize their blood in, and that their only way to leave the gang is death, either from murder from a rival gang, or death for treason.

Texas Syndicate Gang Members.

Gang initiation is determined either by a formula system, whereas if the member completes all the requirements (which sometimes include killing another person) and the other basic requirements (such as race, ethnicity etc), they are automatically initiated. Other gangs have a voting system to determine whether the member is initiated or not. However if a member is not deemed worthy to be initiated, the denied appellant could end up becoming victimized by the gang, such as making the person pay money for “protection” and be “put to work” for the gang through prostitution. (Fong 41) The fact that the gangs would still find ways to take advantage of people not qualified for their gang, is enough evidence that the gangs in the prison system, find their ways in maintaining power over their victims.

One can easily compare joining a gang while in prison to joining a fraternity in college. In short, gang initiation can in some cases relate to membership in a college fraternity, as one cannot join another fraternity once initiated and once initiated, you are a member for life. College Fraternities are a basis of social support and are a useful means of college students to feel part of a group and not isolated from other college students. Likewise the gangs allow inmates the opportunity to be free from isolation and as a result to have a support system.


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