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240 × 165 × 38 mm
416 pages
91 illustrations
12 Oct 2020

Power on the Inside A Global History of Prison Gangs Mitchel P. Roth

Power on the Inside is the first book to examine the historical development of prison gangs worldwide, from those that emerged inside the mid-nineteenth-century Neapolitan prisons to the new generation of younger inmates challenging the status quo within gang subcultures today. Historian-criminologist Mitchel P. Roth examines prison gangs throughout the world, from the Americas, Oceania and South Africa to Southeast Asia, Europe and beyond. The book examines the many variables that influence the evolution of prison subcultures, from colonialism and population demographics to prison architecture and staff-prisoner relations. Power on the Inside features eighty historical and contemporary images, and will inform professionals in the field as well as general readers who want to know more about the realities of prison gangs today.

Winner of the Frederic Milton Thrasher Award for "Superior Accomplishments in Gang Research"
’ — National Gang Crime Research Center and Journal of Gang Research

‘[An] eye-opening examination of the different hierarchies and ideologies employed by prison gangs around the world . . . A revealing study with broad implications for policymakers and law enforcement.’ — Kirkus Reviews

‘criminologist Roth offers an unprecedented historical and global perspective on prison gangs. He challenges stereotypes and misconceptions – not all prison gangs are harmful; some provide a sense of order that staff cannot . . . His scholarly, meticulous analysis of the various types of organizations and comparisons will give readers a stronger understanding of these prison subcultures . . . Roth illuminates the motivations, behavior, and activity of the organizations both inside and outside of prison and discusses how members function within the prison environment . . . Roth's well-written, deeply researched work is a must for those in the criminology and criminal justice fields, but interested general readers will find it accessible as well.’ — Library Journal

‘This is a thoroughly researched, well-illustrated and yet accessible account of prison gangs, which has the advantage of being both historical and global in its reach. Above all, it was a joy to read.’ — David Wilson, Emeritus Professor of Criminology at Birmingham City University, former prison governor and well-known TV and radio presenter

‘Finally, a historical analysis of prison gangs worldwide. This book by Mitchel Roth sets the new standard for prison-gang scholarship. It offers a cross-cultural and cross-border factual analysis of a major international problem not yet addressed by the United Nations. The material on organized crime alone makes this required reading and a reference work for all libraries.’ — Dr George W. Knox, Executive Director, National Gang Crime Research Center, Chicago, IL

‘Who wields power “inside”? Mitchel Roth’s chilling and fascinating comparative history of prison gangs demonstrates how far prisons across the world can be considered micro-states, with gangs the crude and exploitative authorities that emerge to run them through violence, fear – and a rough-and-ready sense of order.’ — Dr Mark Galeotti, author of ‘The Vory: Russia's Super-Mafia’

‘An ambitious and stimulating account that draws attention to the historical and cultural contexts in which the prison gang phenomenon has emerged worldwide. Power on the Inside should be essential reading for scholars and students in the comparative prison studies field.’ — Dr Sacha Darke, Senior Lecturer in Criminology, University of Westminster

‘Demonstrates both the variations in and similarities of prison gangs through time and around the world. There are few books of this scope or importance.’ — Scott H. Decker, Foundation Professor of Criminology and Criminal Justice, Arizona State University

‘This is a timely book that brings together research from around the world rather than focusing on North America and Europe. In doing so, Roth demonstrates the need for, and generates ideas for, research on prison gangs in other nations.’ — Mark Lauchs, Associate Professor of Criminology, Queensland University of Technology

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Mitchel P. Roth is Professor of Criminal Justice and Criminology at Sam Houston State University, Texas. His many books include An Eye for an Eye: A Global History of Crime and Punishment (Reaktion, 2014).


Chapter 1 Prison Gangs and Subcultures
Chapter 2 The Camorra
Chapter 3 ‘Thieves with a Code of Honour’: Lords of the Russian Gulag System
Chapter 4 South Africa’s Number Gangs
Chapter 5 Oceania’s Prison Gangs: Australia and New Zealand
Chapter 6 Asian Prison Gangs
Chapter 7 Prison Gangs in Western Europe
Chapter 8 Prison Gangs of North America
Chapter 9 Prison Gangs of Latin America