The author of this new and excellent book is David Skarbek and the subtitle is How Prison Gangs Govern the American Penal System. It carries rave blurbs from Thomas Schelling and also Philip Keefer. My favorite section was the discussion of how the rate of gang formation in prisons depends on how the prisons are governed (start at p.65). For instance when prison officials cannot reliably protect prison inhabitants, gang membership is especially likely. Gangs rarely operate in UK prisons and when they are do they are usually far less powerful. Some observers believe that indeterminate sentences increase inmate frustration and stimulate gang formation within prisons. Female prisoners in many states, such as California, also do not have gangs in the traditional sense, although they may form into “small families.” Gangs are also more likely in large prisons with many inmates than in small prisons.
A very interesting book, which should be read by anyone with an interest in this topic.