There are a variety of programs today on television that dedicate themselves to documenting what life is like behind bars in various prisons around the United States. While most end up touching on the subject of prison gangs, specifically the presence of white power gangs, none that I researched covered white power prison gangs more profoundly than a documentary produced by the National Geographic Channel simply titled “Aryan Brotherhood’. This documentary was a 50 minute program dedicated to the Aryan Brotherhood itself and its inner workings and key figures involved.
Picture above are several key figures responsible for the inception of the AB. From left to right stands Michael Thomspon, Casper Crowell, John Gresner, and Bob Overton. The documentary makes it very apparent that the Aryan Brotherhood has risen to power as the most dominant and feared white power gang in America’s prison system today. It is estimated that the AB consists of less than one tenth of the overall inmate population yet is responsible for close to twenty percent of the occurring murders in prison today clearing defining them as an extremely violent group of people. In previous blogs I have touched on the history of the AB but for the purpose of review, they were founded in the sixties by a group of Irish bikers with the intent of protecting fellow white inmates from attacks from other racial factions. Since its inception, the “Brand” (as referred to by members in the gang) has remained a tight group of convicts who exercise a very strict selection process to join the ranks. They accept only the most violent and cunning inmates on “the yard” to join the inner workings of the organization that has had federal investigating authorities scratching their heads for years. As with any criminal organization, a prospect or a “boot” must prove to the AB that he can be trusted and is ready to dedicate the rest of his criminal career to the gang. This of course comes in the form of “Blood in, Blood out” in
which a literal translation of that “spill blood until yours is spilled”. Violence is heavily encouraged and one must kill other inmates to be accepted by the Brand.
Moving on, the AB has proven itself to authorities that it is a very complex and deep organization. When asked, most inmates will not acknowledge the existence of the Brotherhood and this their numbers are not known to this day. It is projected that their may be as few as 100 actual members but their reach of influence could cover thousands of white inmates. even when authorities have attempted to “cut the head off” of it by isolating two major shot callers by the name of Tyler Bingham and Barry Mills. According to authorities, the AB has adopted a very deep form of cryptic communication developed in the 1800’s called a bilateral cypher. This code has eluded authorities for years and essentially only comprehensible to members of “The Brand”. Through this code, Bingham and Mills have been able to order contract killings and major political moves from solitary confinement. According to the documentary, the AB accumulates millions of dollars in drug trafficking and contract killings per year controlling the drug trade in various prisons.
Furthermore, the documentary is fueled heavily by two eye witness accounts of ex members of the AB who have both left for person reason. As stated earlier, the AB’s policy on “blood in, blood out”has put both Michael Thompson and Casper Crowl at the top of their hit list. Both of these inmates now reside in a “special needs” unit at an undisclosed prison but the AB’s ability to kill whoever they would like has these two inmates looking over their shoulder for the rest of their life. Michael Thompson is one of the more revered hit-men in the gang with a claimed 22 kills since he was incarcerated for a non-violent crime. He turned his back on the Aryan Brotherhood after a decision was made to execute a member’s family outside of prison in which he was in extreme disagreement with. The other inmate interviewed is Casper Crowl, a very large man covered from the head down in tattoos claiming his faith in the gang. While serving time in solitary confinement he came to the realization the gang was betraying the principles that he believed in and redefined the gang in his mind as the “Heroin Brotherhood.” He claims that upon first joining the gang, the name and all the racist tattoos were just a small part of the organization. Furthermore, the Brotherhood challenged his beliefs in their strive for criminal dominance over upholding white supremacist beliefs and claimed they were ‘Race Traitors” and that Tyler Bingham himself is part Jewish.
Crowls testimony is where the worth of this documentary came into light. His testimony illustrated a main topic in my previous blogs that white power prison gangs use the ideologies as a recruitment tool and front to fuel criminal activities and make profits through violence. Overall the documentary provided excellent information through ex member testimonies that furthered my understanding of the subject matter. The Aryan Brotherhood is a criminal organization determined to turn a profit through violence and extortion while loosely upholding white supremacist beliefs.