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Gangs (Security Threat Groups)

Gangs are a continuing national problem that all elements of the public safety community must effectively manage. In a 2012 survey analysis, the Bureau of Justice National Gang Center found that "Following a marked decline from the mid-1990s to the early 2000s, the prevalence rate of gang activity significantly increased between 2001 and 2005 and has since remained fairly constant". The research highlighted on this page covers a range of gang related, corrections topics from slang words used by prison gangs to prevention and intervention for gang-affiliated girls.

Resources Guide

The following are a list of "top-shelf" resources that have been hand-picked by our library team around this topic. If you're wanting some additional research assistance on this topic, please contact our help desk. They have access to specialized databases and thousands of resources you won't find online. Click on a heading below to browse resources in that section.

General - 5 items(s)

Resources
Sharing Gang Intelligence Bridging the Gap: Corrections - Police - Educators [Satellite/Internet Broadcast] (2008). Gangs are a growing national problem that all elements of the public safety community must effectively manage. Collaboration and information sharing are key to managing gangs effectively and safeguarding public and institutional safety. A diverse panel of experts addresses various processes, methods, technologies, partnerships, and information sharing programs related to gangs and their potential networks of intelligence. This broadcast will be of interest to police, corrections, military, and criminal justice educational agencies. Discussion topics include the following:
  • Value of correctional intelligence
  • Available technologies and good intelligence sharing programs
  • How gang intelligence is gathered in prison and jail and the correctional intelligence cycle
  • Recruitment of terrorists in prison or jail
  • And police/corrections partnerships.
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If You Don't Know About Gangs - You Should, Parts I-III (2012). This series of articles provide a general primer about gangs on the street and in prisons. Topics discussed include what a gang is, gang violence, reasons juveniles join gangs, the gang leader, gang protectiveness, and recruiting of new members. Information is then provided for the Bloods, Crips, Almighty Latin King and Queen Nation (Latin Kings), Neta Association, Mara Sakvatrucha (MA, MS-13), Folk Nation, Mexican Mafia, Juggalo, and skinheads.
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Prisoner Classification and Gang Activity (2013). This article provides a brief but very informative explanation of how courts rule on cases involving custodial risk levels based on the previous gang activity of the prisoner. Sections cover: issue introduction; classifying gang members; Michigan’s Security Threat Group (STG); quantum of evidence; due process; and failure to classify.
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Gangs and Reentry - 3 items(s)

Resources
Gang Member Reentry: Probation and Parole Perspectives. This National Gang Center newsletter (Winter 2014) features articles on probation and parole perspectives on gang member reentry, collaboration and information sharing for juvenile justice, OJJDP’s Comprehensive Gang Model training details, and resources offered by OJJDP and BJA.
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Guidelines to Gang Reentry (2010). This guide provides suggestions “to assist gang-involved individuals returning to the community from confinement … [and] for planning interventions for gang-involved defendants/offenders, along with helpful hints for facilitating effective and efficient reentry.” Sections following the “Literature Review: Reentry and Gang-Affiliated Offenders” by James Howell are: institutional phase of reentry from intake to release; structured reentry phase—transitional work done by both the institution and community corrections; the community reintegration phase overseen by community corrections officers; and guiding principles for community reintegration.
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Do No Harm: A Briefing Paper on the Reentry of Gang-Affiliated Individuals in New Jersey (2007). Strategies for reintegrating gang-affiliated offenders into New Jersey communities are explained. Sections after an executive summary are: introduction; background and context -- gangs and gang interventions, reentry dynamics of gang-affiliated individuals, and gang-related prison and parole programs in New Jersey; promising strategies -- pre-release and post-release interventions; and lessons learned.
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Gangs in Jails - 2 items(s)

Resources
Jails: Conducting Security Threat Group and Gang Interviews in a Pre-trial Setting (2013). “One of the most important aspects of classification and the subsequent housing of individuals being booked into your facilities is the ability to identify who is a security threat to your facility, inmates and staff. Street and prison gang members pose the greatest risk to the safe and secure operation of your facility if not classified correctly. One the most important indicators of gang membership or association other than tattoos is the interview … For the purpose of this article the main focus will be on interviews conducted for the purpose of identifying individuals who are suspected of being involved in either street gang or prison gang activity” (p. 1). Topics discussed include: interview versus interrogation; being prepared for the interview; preparing for the interview; gang interviews; making sure the questioning is not vague; and when an inmate requests to talk to you.
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Sharing Gang Intelligence Bridging the Gap: Corrections - Police - Educators [Satellite/Internet Broadcast] (2008). Gangs are a growing national problem that all elements of the public safety community must effectively manage. Collaboration and information sharing are key to managing gangs effectively and safeguarding public and institutional safety. A diverse panel of experts addresses various processes, methods, technologies, partnerships, and information sharing programs related to gangs and their potential networks of intelligence. This broadcast will be of interest to police, corrections, military, and criminal justice educational agencies. Discussion topics include the following:
  • Value of correctional intelligence
  • Available technologies and good intelligence sharing programs
  • How gang intelligence is gathered in prison and jail and the correctional intelligence cycle
  • Recruitment of terrorists in prison or jail
  • And police/corrections partnerships.
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Prison Gangs - 16 items(s)

Resources
How Gangs Took Over Prisons. This Atlantic Monthly article from October 2014 summarizes the findings from David Skarbek's book "The Social Order of the Underworld", which attempts to explain the intricate organizational systems that make prison gangs so formidable.
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Americas Hardest Prisons Dangerous Prison Gangs. This 50 min. video produced by the Documentary & Life Discovery HD Channel in May 2014 documents how most prison gangs do more than offer simple protection for their members. Most often, prison gangs are responsible for any drug, tobacco or alcohol handling inside correctional facilities. Furthermore, many prison gangs involve themselves in prostitution, assaults, kidnappings and murders.

In addition, prison gangs often exercise a large degree of influence over organized crime in the "free world", larger than their isolation in prison might lead one to expect.
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Gangs in Prison - The War . A National Geographic documentary from July 2014. (47 mins.)
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Security Threat Groups. This webpage from the Arizona Department of Corrections provides information on STG terminology, earmarks, membership validation, FAQs and more.
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DRC Security Threat Groups: Correctional Institution Inspection Committee. This January 2014 report from the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction provides statistics, definitions and a classification process on Security Threat Groups.
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Security Threat Group (GANG): Validation, Placement and Debriefing. This document from the San Quentin Prison Law Office reviews the new CDCR rules for deciding who is a gang member or associate, and whether or not those prisoners are placed in a Security Housing Unit (SHU). It also describes the Step Down Program (SDP) for gang prisoners and if prisoners in the SDP can earn Sentence-Reducing Conduct Credits.
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Gang Renouncement and Disassociation (GRAD) Process. This webpage from the Texas Department of Criminal Justice covers the Gang Renouncement and Disassociation (GRAD) process, which provides a method for offenders to renounce their membership with a known security threat group (STG). Offenders willing to renounce their gang affiliation will be required to participate in the nine month process and associated activities until successful completion is attained.
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Locked Down: Gangs in the Supermax (2012). The activities of gangs in the supermax at California’s Pelican Bay State Prison are investigated. Resultant findings are posted to this website. Here you can listen to an hour long documentary regarding gangs in the supermax, read the transcript, hear extended interviews from former gang members and prison staff, read about the author’s experience inside the prison, and read a three part expose.
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Prison Offenders: Prison Gangs, Prison Stories, Prison News (2011). Descriptions of various topics related to prison offenders can be found at this website. If you want a quick introduction to various prison issues this is a good place to start. Points of entry include: about the website; topics; news; White gangs; Hispanic gangs; Black gangs; videos; prison art; prison tattoos; correctional officer job description; and prison weapons.
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Prison Slang Words (2011). This list of words tends to focus on gang slang.
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Terrorist Recruitment in American Correctional Institutions: An Exploratory Study of Non-Traditional Faith Groups (2007). The relationship between religious conversion in correctional facilities and terrorist recruitment (radicalization) is examined. Five chapters follow an executive summary: religious conversion and prisoner radicalization; methods and context; religious conversion in prison -- crisis converts, protection-seekers, the searchers, manipulating converts, free-world recruited converts, and the influence of chaplains; the terrorist threat; and conclusions and recommendations. "The study's main conclusion is that the danger to U.S. security is not the number of adherents to Islam, or to white supremacy religions, but in the potential for small groups of true believers to instigate terrorist acts upon their release from custody" (p. 5-6).
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Correctional Institution Inspection Committee: Security Threat Groups (2012). Issues related to security threat groups (STGs) in Ohio prisons are covered. Sections of this brief are: what a security threat group is; what they do; what the largest STGs are in Ohio prisons; STG statistics; STG management; STG identification; number of inmates identified as STG members by institution; and STG members by percent of institution population.
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Security Threat Groups on the Inside (2007). Answers to frequently asked questions about Security Threat Groups (STGs) or prison gangs are provided. Topics covered include: what a STG is; the 12 STGs recognized in Texas prisons; why an offender joins a STG; what the indicators of STG membership are; how STGs recruit members; what administrative segregation is; what a STG can do to your family if your son/daughter joins; what STG members and/or their family and friends face upon their release from prison; and what to do to get out of a STG.
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The Problem of Gangs and Security Threat Groups (STG’s) in American Prisons and Jails Today: Recent Findings from the 2012 NGCRC National Gang/STG Survey (2012). This is an excellent publication containing a wealth of information about problems associated with gangs and security threat groups (STGs) in American jails and prisons. Sections of this report include: introduction; prior research; definitions; methodology; characteristics of the responding correctional facilities; scope and extent of the gang/STG problem in American corrections; the issue of gang recruitment behind bars; the issues and controversies about religious worship for inmates and prisoners; the issue of racial extremism and racial conflict behind bars; the issue of gang renunciation—getting out of the gang behind bars; housing gang inmates separate or together—which is best; the politics of gang/STG problems in American corrections; gang/STG abuse of mail and telephone communications in American corrections; other types of problems behind bars caused by gangs/STGs; strategies to control gangs/STG’s behind bars; what should be done to respond to the gang/STG problem; and summary and conclusions. “There are many complex and intricate aspects of the gang/STG problem behind bars. This study is the latest in a long series of prison gang/STG surveys conducted by the National Gang Crime Research Center (NGCRC) dating back to the early 1990's. We are not seeing the gang/STG problem level off yet, which means that gang density is on the rise. The fact is it may be possible at this point for gangs to claim that they run the jails and prisons, because of the power they wield there. We are not seeing any optimism about the chances of reducing or curtailing the gang/STG problem behind bars. Most of the respondents were pessimistic about the future: they expect the gang or STG problem to increase in the next few years” (p. 29).
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Gang and Security Threat Group Awareness (2014). "In 1992, the Florida Department of Corrections began its efforts to identify the levels of gang activity within its inmate/offender population. Although we had not realized a significant number of disruptive incidents were attributed to gang activity, national trends and an increase in the intake of younger inmates prompted the Security Threat Group (STG) management initiative. The result is the comprehensive intelligence gathering program that has literally given us a "blueprint" of gang activity in Florida. The Security Threat Intelligence Unit (STIU) is now recognized as a national leader in STG identification, assessment and management. Although our primary focus is on inmates and offenders, we are committed to sharing what we learn with criminal justice agencies and the public." Access is provided to: gang basics; F.A.Q.; Chicago based; Nation Sets; L.A. based; prison gangs; Florida gangs; supremacy groups; awareness strategies; and links to additional resources.
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Youth Gangs - 8 items(s)

Resources
Model Programs Guide: Gang Offenders. This webpage from the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) provides a list of gang offenders programs, their ratings for effectiveness and a program summary.
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Gang Membership Between Ages 5 and 17 Years in the United States. This study determined the frequency, prevalence, and turnover in gang membership between ages 5 and 17 years in the United States. Published November 2014 in the Journal of Adolescent Health.
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It's About Time: Prevention and Intervention Services for Gang-Affiliated Girls (2012). “This NCCD Focus highlights the vulnerabilities and consequences of gang involvement for girls, the service needs of girls in gangs and girls at risk of joining gangs, as well as the importance of addressing these service needs as a critical gang violence-prevention strategy. It also provides examples of how various programs are currently addressing the gender-specific service needs of girls involved in gangs” (p. 1). Sections of this publication include: introduction; risk factors and costs for girls; the view from service providers—the service needs of girls at risk of gang involvement (life skill classes, mentorship, and peer support), the service needs of girls in gangs (sexual abuse and gang desistance), the service needs of girls in juvenile halls (legal education services, recidivism prevention, and creative therapeutic services); examples of programming and services for girls—Girls & Gangs, Kevin Grant Consulting, Barrios Unidos, Fathers & Families of San Joaquin, and Operation Peacekeeper; and conclusion.
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Highlights of the 2011 National Youth Gang Survey (2013). “This fact sheet provides an over view of the nation’s gang problem. In 2011, there were an estimated 29,900 gangs (versus 29,000 in 2010) and 782,500 gang members (versus 756,000 in 2010) throughout 3,300 jurisdictions (down from 3,500 in 2010) with gang problems. The number of reported gang-related homicides decreased from 2,020 in 2010 to 1,824 in 2011” (p. 1). Findings summarized cover: trends in gang activity; gang presence in metropolitan areas; factors influencing local gang violence; and anti-gang measures.
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G.R.E.A.T. – Gang Resistance Education and Training (2013). “Gang Resistance Education And Training (G.R.E.A.T.) is an evidence-based and effective gang and violence prevention program built around school-based, law enforcement officer-instructed classroom curricula. The Program is intended as an immunization against delinquency, youth violence, and gang membership for children in the years immediately before the prime ages for introduction into gangs and delinquent behavior.” Access is provided to: training information; instructor resources; news; components; and helpful links.
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Review of the Phoenix/New Freedom Gang Intervention Curriculum (2009). Results are provided from an assessment of the Phoenix/New Freedom gang intervention curriculum. This review contains these sections: background; general findings; conclusion and recommendations; and summary of telephone survey findings from New Jersey, Wisconsin, Florida, New Mexico, Georgia, and Ohio. The curriculum appears less than effective for females and younger children, yet still shows some promise.
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National Gang Center. The National Gang Center Web site features the latest research about gangs; descriptions of evidence-based, anti-gang programs; and links to tools, databases, and other resources to assist in developing and implementing effective community-based gang prevention, intervention, and suppression strategies. Here you will find an analysis of the findings from nearly 16 years of data collected by the annual National Youth Gang Survey of 2,500 U.S. law enforcement agencies. Visitors can read and download publications related to street gangs. An online form allows communities to request training and technical assistance as they plan and implement anti-gang strategies. Users can register for a variety of anti-gang training courses. The Web site also hosts a database of gang-related state legislation and municipal codes; a list of newspaper articles on nationwide gang activity, updated daily; and GANGINFO, an electronic mailing list for professionals working with gangs. For a list of all resources on this Web site, see Index to Site Content.
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