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Individual suppliers had to protect themselves from possible murder and assault by consumers and other suppliers, as well as to ensure that their products would not be confiscated or stolen.
Prisoners achieved a social equilibrium around unwritten rules.Under tight prison security and with limited means, these individual suppliers could only provide a limited amount of product.Their consumer base was too small for them to establish a "brand" or credibility themselves.And as demographics inside prisons changed drastically, small groups centered on ethnicity, race, and pre-prison alliances were disrupted.
John Irwin states in his book, Prisons in Turmoil, that by 1970 "there [was] no longer a single, overarching convict culture".
Another approach to understanding prison gang development is based upon observations of inmates in the Texas prison system.