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The Social Order of the Underworld – How Prison Gangs Govern the American Penal System - Oxford Scholarship Online
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The Social Order of the Underworld: How Prison Gangs Govern the American Penal System

David Skarbek


This book studies the social order of the prison underworld to understand how extralegal institutions form, operate, and evolve. It uses economics to explore the secret world of the convict culture, inmate hierarchy, and prison gang politics. Like entrepreneurs in countries with weak states, inmates engaged in illegal activity cannot rely on state-based governance institutions, such as courts of law and the police. Correctional officers will not resolve a dispute over a heroin deal gone wrong or help kill a predatory rapist. Inmates must create rules to govern the society of captives. In today ... More

Keywords: governance, social order, prison gangs, gangs, extralegal institutions, violence, economics

Bibliographic Information

Print publication date: 2014 Print ISBN-13: 9780199328499
Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: June 2014 DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199328499.001.0001


Affiliations are at time of print publication.

David Skarbek, author
Kings College London