Possibly Barry B. Longyear's Infinity Hold, first published in 1989.
From one of the reviews on the Amazon link above:
In 2115 Bando Nicos is a twenty-seven year-old inmate of "The Crotch",
the Union of Terran Republics' prison for incorrigibles in Greenville,
Mississippi. Like many other prisons, The Crotch is shut down and the
entire population deposited on the planet Tartaros, named for the
lowest level of hell, the galaxy's dumping ground for the unwanted.
Soon after they are abandoned in the sandy desert of Tartaros, the
seventeen thousand-plus population is reduced to three thousand. The
remaining "sharks" decide they must band together if they want to
survive, and elect a leader who makes Bando the first police officer
of the newly-christened Razai gang. With the help of pre-teen killers,
homicidal maniacs, and political dissidents, Bando makes up the
brutally simple Law of the Razai as they travel in search of a place
of refuge. In between trials and fights for survival against the gangs
already in residence, Bando and his compatriots must think about the
meaning of justice, and Bando examines his own heart to see if he is
worthy of the trust placed in him.