Social Question

JmacOroni's avatar

Why do most prisons seem to self segregate by race?

Asked by JmacOroni (3288points) March 1st, 2011

Does this reflect something about society?
Does it reflect something about human nature?
Is this trend exclusively born of the prison system, or is there a deeper reasoning behind it?

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9 Answers

mrentropy's avatar

I always thought it had to do with gangs. Which are usually not ethnically mixed organizations.

12Oaks's avatar

That old saying “Birds of a feather flock together” comes to mind. Occam’s razor.

JmacOroni's avatar

@mrentropy actually, it seems that in many prisons – gang affiliations on the outside may dissolve specifically so that gangs within the prison based exclusively on race can exist. Not often, but it does happen. Also, within the prison system – it doesn’t seem as simple as your gang affiliations. They very distinctly segregate by race, and then gang affiliation.
In any case, the same question would apply to gang activity, then. Why do humans self segregate by race within these societal structures?

iamthemob's avatar

Why do people do the same, generally?

You need someone who has your back in prison.

People do because you go to the people that will most likely understand your history. Skin color, unfortunately, is still a proxy for that.

JmacOroni's avatar

@iamthemob so you think it does reflect something about society?

12Oaks's avatar

@JmacOroni Probably does. Not necessarily a bad thing, but something.

iamthemob's avatar

@JmacOroni – Absolutely.

syzygy2600's avatar

Somewhat on topic, I find it interesting that a measure of someone who is truly depraved is when people of their own race don’t back them up in prison.

Paul Bernardo ( is hated by everyone, even white prison gangs.

There was also a case in the U.S. where three black men took a bunch of people hostage in a Radio Shack and killed a few of them in brutal ways. They were so hated that even black prison gangs wanted nothing to do with them and would even encourage them to commit suicide.

chocolatechip's avatar

People segregate themselves by race in all aspects of society.

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