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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.

Broadcasts, Videos, Webinars - 6 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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Americas Hardest Prisons Dangerous Prison Gangs (2014). Documentary & Life Discovery HD Channel.

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 (2014). National Geographic.

A documentary on gangs in prisons.
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Locked Down: Gangs in the Supermax (2012). Montgomery, Michael. American Radio Works.

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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LA Gang Wars (2016). National Geographic.

A documentary n the LA gang wars between the Crips and the Bloods
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Aryan Prison Gangs and Law Enforcement (2013). Southern Poverty Law Center.

This Southern Poverty Law Center video was created to help law enforcement agencies better prepare for encounters with aryan prison gang members behind prison walls and on the streets.
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Gangs and Reentry - 2 items(s)

Resources
Gang Member Reentry: Probation and Parole Perspectives (2014). National Gang Center.

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). American Parole and Probation Association.

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.
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Gangs and Sex Trafficking - 1 items(s)

Resources
The Nature and Extent of Gang Involvement in Sex Trafficking in San Diego County 2016. Carpenter, Ami and Jamie Gates. United States Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, National Institute of Justice.

The overall purpose of this project was to investigate the nature and assess of the scope of gang involvement in sex trafficking in San Diego County. Human trafficking is a global phenomenon with a variety of local manifestations, including labor and sex trafficking. San Diego is ranked by the FBI as one of the nation’s 13 highest areas of commercial sexual exploitation of children. Despite widespread attention on sex trafficking, there has been little empirical research on the nature and process of sex trafficking activities, and even less on the connection between sex trafficking and gangs. Prior to this study, much of what was known about sex trafficking in San Diego County was anecdotal and descriptive. The study’s basic premise was that empirical investigation would prove useful for both policy and practice.
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Gangs in Jails - 1 items(s)

Resources
Jails: Conducting Security Threat Group and Gang Interviews in a Pre-trial Setting (2013). Stewart, Sean. National Institute for Jail Operations.

“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..." 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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General - 10 items(s)

Resources
How Are Gangs Identified (2016). Los Angeles Police Department.

Most gang members are proud of their gang and freely admit their membership. Many display tattoos openly and dress in a style identifying their particular gang. Their personal belongings are frequently covered with graffiti and bear the gang’s logo and the member’s gang name.
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History of Street Gangs in the United States (2010). Howell, James C., and John P. Moore. National Gang Center Bulletin.

This bulletin should be the first stop for anyone interested in gangs and their history. Topics discussed include: the influence of population migration patterns on gang emergence; street gang emergence in the Northeast; gangs in New York City; modern-day Eastern gangs; street gangs in Chicago; modern-day Midwest gangs; gang names and alliances; gang growth in the West; Los Angeles’ gangs; modern-day gangs in the West; gang emergence in the South; immigrant group waves; “transnational” gangs; 18th Street Gang; Mara Salvatrucha 13; Central America gang member estimates; U.S. gang involvement in drug trafficking along the U.S.-Mexico border; cartel territories and drug routes; gang influence along the U.S.-Mexico border; the revolving door of transnational gang member migration; and concluding observations.
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If You Don't Know About Gangs - You Should, Parts I-III (2012). Osterstuck, Greg. Corrections.com.

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). 2013 (11) AELE Mo. L. J. 301,Jail & Prisoner Law Section.

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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Compilation of Gang-Related Legislation (2016). National Gang Center.

Using automated databases and working with a variety of entities, the National Gang Center identifies gang-related legislation. This information is updated as new legislation and existing legislation are identified

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Deradicalization: A Review of the Literature with Comparison to Findings in the Literatures on Deganging and Deprogramming (2012). Morris, Madeline, Frances Eberhard, Jessica Rivers, and Michael Watsula. Institute for Homeland Security.

This literature review begins with a discussion of the affiliative factors contributing to a person’s radicalization at the mass, group, and individual levels. Ideology does not seem to be “the” or possibly even “a” primary factor. The study continues with reasons for exiting, factors that may inhibit leaving an extremist group, and deradicalization efforts. Following these sections is a look at gangs and cults. It appears that deradicalization, deganging, and deprogramming efforts are not overly effective because they do not address the central affiliative factors important to the individual.
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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 (2013). Knox, George W. National Gang Crime Research Center.

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.
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National Gang Center Publications. National Gang Center.

This webpage has links to recent publications and National Youth Gang Surveys.
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"From Your First Cigarette to Your Last Dyin' Day": The Patterning of Gang Membership in the Life-Course (2014). Pyrooz, David C. Journal of Quantitative Criminology, 30, no. 2, 349-373.

This article examines gang membership through a life-course lens. The life-course approach looks at how events in an individual's life history affect that person's future decisions and actions. Results are presented for: the correlates of gang membership in a national sample; the age-graded prevalence of gang membership; distinct pathways of gang membership in the life-course; and correlates of gang membership pathways.
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Gangs and Gang Crime (2011). National Institute of Justice.

This website has general information about gangs as well as links to other topics such as "what is a gang?", gang activity and prevalence, research and evaluation projects on gangs.
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Prison Gangs - 9 items(s)

Resources
How Gangs Took Over Prisons (2014). Wood, Graeme. The Atlantic Monthly.

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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Security Threat Groups. Arizona Department of Corrections.

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 (2014). Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction

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 (2014) . Prison Law Office.

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. Texas Department of Criminal Justice.

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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Security Threat Group Prevention, Identification and Management Strategy. This report from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation describes the Department’s proposed implementation of the Security Threat Group Identification System and Step Down Program for Gang Interdiction and Management.
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Gang and Security Threat Group Awareness (2014). Florida Department of Corrections, Security Threat Intelligence Unit.

"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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Prison Offenders: Prison Gangs, Prison Stories, Prison News. PrisonOffenders.com.

This website provides 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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Major Prison Gangs. Florida Department of Corrections.

This website gives information about the six major prison gangs in the Florida prison system.
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Youth Gangs - 7 items(s)

Resources
Model Programs Guide: Gang Offenders. U.S. Department of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP)

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 (2015). Pyrooz, David C., and Gary Sweeten. Journal of Adolescent Health, 1-6.

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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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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G.R.E.A.T. – Gang Resistance Education and Training (2013). Institute for Intergovernmental Research (IIR). G.R.E.A.T. Program (Tallahassee, FL)

“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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Gang & Youth Violence Interventions: A Review of Research and Literature Addressing Evidence-Based and Promising Practices for Gang-Affiliated and Violent Youth in Juvenile Institutions and Detention Centers (2010). Whitbeck, Barbara. Washington State Department of Social and Health Services, Research and Data Analysis Division.

This report reviews current research and literature to determine which evidence-based and promising practices work best for gang-affiliated and violent youth in juvenile institutions and other detention settings, and what factors need to be considered when implementing best practices. It also notes evidence-based practices currently used by Washington’s DSHS Juvenile Rehabilitation Administration (JRA), and practices JRA may consider for future implementation.

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It's About Time: Prevention and Intervention Services for Gang-Affiliated Girls (2012). Wolf, Angela, and Livier Gutierrez. National Council on Crime and Delinquency.

“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).
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Highlights of the 2012 National Youth Gang Survey (2012). Egley, Arlen Jr., James C. Howell, and Meena Harris. U.S. Department of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.

"This fact sheet provides an overview of the nation’s gang problem. In 2012, there were an estimated 30,700 gangs (an increase from 29,900 in 2011) and 850,000 gang members (an increase from 782,500 in 2011) throughout 3,100 jurisdictions with gang problems (down from 3,300 in 2011). The number of reported gang-related homicides increased 20 percent from 1,824 in 2011 to 2,363 in 2012 (p. 1). Findings are organized according to: trends in gang activity; gang membership designation; and antigang measures. Gang activity is concentrating in largely populated areas with limited spread of activity away from larger cities.
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