The Industrial Prison Congress (Sur 13)

In the industrial prison complex, decision-makers, (shot-callers) of criminal organizations come from different areas throughout the state of California. They represent  districts and boundaries across several counties, and most come from street gangs and are divided by regional blocs. In the city of Los Angeles, those regional blocs are: Westside/LAX, South Los Angeles, San Fernando Valley, Downtown/Central Los Angeles, Northeast Los Angeles, and the Harbor Area. The Sureño 13 sphere of influence extends to the counties of: San Luis Obispo, Kern, Santa Barbara, Ventura, San Bernardino, Orange, Riverside, San Diego, and Imperial, which are also divided into regional blocs according to city and neighborhood. Most of these influential leaders are housed in maximum security facilities or secure housing units, (SHU) and can be looked at as state senators making decisions for their constituencies from great distances. For example, a shot-caller from Florencia 13 in South Los Angeles being housed in the Pelican Bay SHU program, will make decisions and pass policies for his neighborhood from about 750 miles away.

Similar to typical political culture, career criminals who join the prison congress must have a reputation, credibility, and a solid political background. This type of political culture begins on the street within a gang and carries over to jail and prison. Therefore, the industrial prison complex is informally set up as a learning institute for political socialization and the recidivism philosophy. For example; juvenile halls are considered elementary schools, youth authorities are high schools, county jails are community colleges, and state prisons are considered universities, hence the UCDC, the University of California Department of Corrections. Ultimately, the prison congress would be the highest achievement and goal for the career criminal, specifically for those serving life sentences.

Due to its very nature of secrecy and conspiracy, the prison congress is a clandestine organization that executes policies amongst the general prison population, it allocates funds to its members, and they represent outside districts and boundaries for street gangs. Similar to the California legislature, they provide oversight to county administrations, (which are jails and prisons) and their constituents, (street gangs on the outside.) All counties in California are run by a board of supervisors and a chief financial officer, which is the same for the prison congress. Each prison in the state of California is run by a shot-caller with the assistance of a board who is responsible for a district, like a yard in prison. In the prison congress the shot-callers have complete judicial, legislative, and executive authority over the prison population and make decisions based on best practices. In the end, the industrial prison congress is simply carved out in the image of the California legislature with its polarized division of north and south and its ability to control populations over great distances. As street gangs throughout the state are in decline and membership becomes minimal, there will be less people on the outside to control and provide for the prison congress’ livelihood. There is an increasing number of gang drop-outs in prison who are disillusioned by the political culture of the organization, therefore more effort should be placed on gang reduction programs on the streets and the debriefing procedures in prison.


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