It is no secret that prisons have gangs. I am not talking about the gangs many of them belonged to on the outside but the race gangs that have formed inside. Even inmates that were of the same street gang can end up as rivals if they are not the same race. Many if not most prisons keep the different gangs separate at all times or else there could and would be blood.
If you think it is a violation of civil rights, guess what, they are inmates, they don't really have any rights. They are told were to go, were to live and what they can and can not do at all times. Rights are about freedom and because of their own actions, they are not free.
On another note, civil rights are to keep things equal for all. Guess what, cell 24 is the same as cell 55, so they are equal. Thing is, according to the prison gangs, the other races are not equal. The only person equal to you is a person of the same race so keeping them separate creates equality in the cell and/or block.
Infamous prison gangs are usually made up of members of only one ethnicity/race, such as Neta (only made up of Hispanic prisoners), 415 KUMI (only made up of black prisoners), Nazi Low Riders (attacks certain races based on Nazi beliefs) and the infamous Aryan Brotherhood (another Neo-Nazi group). These gangs are known to attack others based on race or religion, and even those who aren't affiliated with rival gangs may be subject to violence against them. If inmates in these prisons were split up by race, I believe it would be a safer environment, as well as a less racially-tense one too.
Segregation legitimizes racism. We're trying to reform criminals so they will be better citizens when they get out, not hardened criminals or hateful racists or bigots.
But there is a problem with prison safety. The solution is surveillance. All prisons should be under 24-7 audio and video surveillance in any part of the prison where inmates may interact with other inmates or with guards. Prison architectures may be built in such a way as to minimize costs by for instance having transparent walls so you don't need as many video cameras and holes in the walls so it is easier and cheaper to pick up on sound. Any reports of violence, abuse, gang activity, bigoted or racist statements, or glorification of crime reported by an inmate or a guard should require a review of the relevant footage. Otherwise to save expenses random viewing of the footage will be enough to make people behave in case people are too afraid to tell. In fact punishment should be given to people who don't tell as well, whether that is unemployment and possibly criminal charges for the guards or disciplinary measures for the inmates.
This surveillance plan would eliminate prison rape, gangs, and even fights in prison.
Segregation would not accomplish those purposes. With segregation people would just form gangs and get into fights over something other than skin color. Everyone could look exactly the same and people would still find things to pick fights over and feuding alliances would form. The only way to stop that and promote peace and cooperation is surveillance and strict enforcement of a zero tolerance policy for any violent or gang-related behavior in prisons.
And before the objections come in, no prohibiting the glorification of crime in a prison is not a violation of freedom of speech. It is a prison, the institutional needs of a prison legitimize those sorts of restrictions.
Implement these reforms and we may be able to truly turn prisons into centers of rehabilitation and reduce recidivism rates.
While it may seem as if I am thinking too much with my heart and not enough with my brain, to segregate prisons would not only violate one of America's most important moral codes, it could also easily be seen as being in violation of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This would almost certainly mean that organizations dedicated to preserving the civil rights of Americans would quickly protest against the decision. Doing this in federal prisons would violate title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and said prisons could lose their government funding.