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The Aryan Brotherhood

(aka AB, Alice, Alice Baker) a prison gang that originated at San Quentin Penitentiary in California in 1967 in response to a series of racial incidents

Aryan Brotherhood tattoos
Aryan Brotherhood tattoos

Although membership into the Brotherhood is limited strictly to whites, racial hatred is of secondary importance to the gang. The gang's principal purpose today is to control drugs, gambling, and prostitution within the prisons in which it operates. Originally membership was restricted only to those inmates with Irish heritage, but has since been extended to inmates with German ancestry; inmates who are neither of Irish or German ancestry can still become members, but must often undergo a far more rigorous "application process." Although minorities are not allowed to join the Brotherhood, it is not uncommon for members to associate with Hispanics and other minorities (except Blacks) when such association can benefit the Brotherhood (acquisition of drugs, for example).

Potential members of the Brotherhood must first prove themselves by killing someone targeted by the Brotherhood. A five-man "membership committee" has the final say as to whether someone becomes a member, and the committee's vote must be unanimous. Someone who fails to gain the votes of all five committee members may often be allowed to associate with the gang for a variety of reasons, but will not enjoy all of the "benefits" of being a full member. The only way out of the Brotherhood is through the member's own death, either by natural causes or murder.

The true Aryan Brotherhood tattoo is a shamrock (signifying Irish ancestry), the letters AB, and three sixes, but there are numerous variations. Only Aryan Brotherhood members are allowed to have a tattoo featuring any combination of those traditional symbols, and anyone caught trying to pass himself off as a member by sporting an Aryan Brotherhood-style tattoo is targeted for death.

The Aryan Brotherhood still has a fairly strong presence in the California prison system, as well as the prison systems of many other states and within the federal system. Members who are released from prison often conduct criminal enterprises outside the prison system on behalf of their brethren who are still incarcerated.

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The Robinson Library >> Sociology >> Social Pathology >> Penology

This page was last updated on September 22, 2017.