FORGETTING STREET BEEFS IN PRISON
We recently got an email question that's probably on the minds of many inthehat readers. It has to do with homies leaving behind their street beefs once they land in prison. Why is it, for example, that members of rival neighborhoods with long and bloody feuds, call a cease fire once they land in la pinta?
To answer that adequately, we have to first come to some understanding of who and what we're talking about with regards to sets, set loyalty within the larger structure of prison gangs and, of course, race.
The situation on the streets is uncontrolled chaos. You've got set rivalries within and outside racial gangs. You've got black on black, brown on brown, asian on asian and to a lesser degree, white on white. And then of course you've got all the possible combinations and permutations of the above. You've got decades-long feuds, for instance, between Hispanic Compton sets and Black Compton sets. Same goes in every other part of the city and county. And you've got Hispanic neighborhoods like The Mob Crew constantly at war with other Hispanic neighborhoods like T-Flats and Cuatro Flats.
You also have to keep in mind the various tax-free, resistance neighborhoods like MS which is always verde on the Eme books, and the occasional Maravilla crews that are sometimes in the hat and sometimes not.
What a homie does in prison will ultimately depend on what he did on the outside and who he cliqued up with.
If you're from LOWELL let's say and you've had one of your homies lit up by AVENIDAS over something that was strictly business, you've got to pretty much drop the beef when you land in prison. There are several reasons for you to not to want some get even -- at least while in the joint and under direct control of the brothers.
Regardless of how tough you are, you're going to need friends and backup in prison. Few are those that can survive in prison completely alone. Without some kind of backup, you're just fish on the line and prey to every convict who wants your property.
The brothers don't want you wantonly assaulting other Hispanics, even for good cause while on the street, because it causes dissension in the ranks. And dissension leads to fragmentation and to a loss of power. If set beefs go unchecked, instead of having let's say 100 Surenos who go with the Eme program, you've now got 10 different cliques with 10 people each beefing with each other. Having that many sets feuding just means fewer soldiers in the ranks. To use a military analogy, other groups, especially the NF, can now divide and conquer and take out one set at a time until there's no one left to oppose them. Ultimately, it's in your best interest to check the vendetta at the gate and go with the program for the simple reason that you need the brothers and the protection they provide.
This is not to say that once you put your revenge aside, everything is rosy. To use another military analogy, the Eme is like the US Marine Corps: No Better Friend, No Worse Enemy. It operates under a completely different code of ethics, of course, but the motto applies nonetheless.
If you toe the Eme line, do what you're told, don't politic, and back up Surenos against other prison gangs, you can count on some measure of protection. If you buck the system and start taking out Surenos without permission because of something that happened on the street, then it may be greenlight time. There are always exceptions, of course. But for the most part, it's in your best interest to let the past go until you're back on the street.
On the other hand, non-Surenos and long-time Eme enemies are free-fire zones. Taking care of a few of those will earn you points with the brothers and maybe an invitation to join.
Of all the prison gangs, the Eme and NF are the best organized and clearly dominate the prison system. There is no comparable Black, Asian or White gangs either in terms of numbers or in the amount of power they wield in the prisons or can project to the streets. And none of them have the intelligence and information network of the brothers. So basically, if you're from a Sureno neighborhood you really don't have much choice other than to mob up. If you want to survive, that is.