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Incarcerated Interactions

A Theory-Driven Analysis of Applied Prison Communication


Edited By Erik D. Fritsvold and Jonathan M. Bowman

Incarcerated Interactions: A Theory-Driven Analysis of Applied Prison Communication is an innovative, applied edited book that uses core interdisciplinary social science theories to analyze and describe the social psychology and sociology of communicative interactions amongst incarcerated individuals. Beginning with the fundamentals of human interactions, this edited volume allows scholars across a variety of disciplines (such as criminology, sociology, communication studies, social psychology, anthropology, and economics) to become familiar with and apply the core principles and the requisite terminology of human communication within a criminological context. Each of the four sections of the text not only build upon the knowledge structures of previous chapters, but also function as stand-alone analyses and/or applications of extant scholarship within essential contexts. From a general discussion of core social science theory to the specific application of that theory in a range of scholarly contexts, this book addresses relevant issues such as mental illness and wellness, the gendered experience of inmates, recidivism rates, violence, the criminogenic effect of incarceration and the large-scale implications of prison gangs and their associated cultural influence, to name a few.

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7. The Power of Secrecy: Cryptography in Prison Gangs : Monica Ramakrishnan


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7. The Power of Secrecy: Cryptography in Prison Gangs


The transformation of prison gangs from a means of protection to a complex, subversive, and covert criminal enterprise has effectively revolutionized the concept of communication between incarcerated gang members. In order to effectively understand the development of the cryptic models of the intricate communication, it is imperative to first recognize the fundamental characteristics of prison gangs. Broadly, prison gangs run covertly under the radar in order to operate without reprimand. To preserve the high levels of secrecy from the prison guards and administrative system and in order to maintain their degree of influence over organized crime, prison gang leaders use multifaceted mathematical algorithms to encrypt and decrypt messages, known as cryptography. Cryptography involves the analysis of techniques for secure and protected communication in the presence of external parties (Kavanagh, n.d.). The immense levels of intelligence needed to encode messages can be found in many of America’s foremost prison gang leaders. When an organized group feels that their secrecy is compromised, the invention of a complex and systematic algorithm arises. The idea of secrecy and its reflection of knowledge drives the notion of power within prison gangs. Thus, the need to preserve that power and to effectively create a barrier against outside factors comes in the form of cryptography. According to Eric Jankiewicz, a leading expert of inter-gang communication, “Codes are substitutes for the letters in our English alphabet....

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