Resource Guide for "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.

Chapter Menu


 Sharing Gang Intelligence Bridging the Gap: Corrections - Police - Educators [Satellite/Internet Broadcast]. National Institute of Corrections Academy (Aurora, CO). 2008. 3 DVDs (249 min.) + 1 CD. Accessed December 19, 2014. 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: [list] [*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.*] [/list].
Howell, James C., Moore John P. U.S. Bureau of Justice Assistance (Washington, DC); U.S. Dept of Justice. Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (Washington, DC). History of Street Gangs in the United States. National Gang Center (Tallahassee, FL). 2010. 25 p. Accessed December 19, 2014. 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.
Barnhart, Tracy. Gang Clothing. (Quincy, MA). 2010. 3 p. Accessed December 19, 2014. unique contribution of this article is its list of sports team apparel/logos and associated gangs. In addition, the general clothing and styles worn by gangs are described.
Osterstuck, Greg. If You Don't Know About Gangs - You Should, Parts I-III. (Scituate, MA). 2012. Accessed December 19, 2014. 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.
 Security Threat Group Prevention, Identification and Management Strategy. California Dept. of Corrections and Rehabilitation (Sacramento, CA). 2012. 40 pages. Accessed December 19, 2014.“The purpose of this document is to establish updated policies and procedures for the identification of criminal gangs and their affiliates. Further, this proposal establishes a uniform process for the management of these groups and other individuals within the CDCR [California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation] … [and] creates a graduated privilege process associated with individual offender behaviors” (p. 10). This document is comprised of nine sections: background; definitions; purpose and scope; roles and responsibility; certification process; validation process; security threat group management; debriefing; and implementation process.
 Prisoner Classification and Gang Activity. 2013. 8 pages. Accessed December 19, 2014. 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.

Gangs and Reentry

 U.S. Bureau of Justice Assistance (Washington, DC). Guidelines to Gang Reentry. American Parole and Probation Association (Lexington, KY); Association of State Correctional Administrators (Hagerstown, MD); Institute for Intergovernmental Research (IIR) (Tallahassee, FL). 2010. 1 CD. Accessed December 19, 2014. 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.
Greenberg, Richard. Do No Harm: A Briefing Paper on the Reentry of Gang-Affiliated Individuals in New Jersey. New Jersey Institute for Social Justice (Newark, NJ). 2007. 27 p. Accessed December 19, 2014. 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.

Gangs in Jails

Stewart, Sean. Jails: Conducting Security Threat Group and Gang Interviews in a Pre-trial Setting. 2013. 4 pages. Accessed December 19, 2014.“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.

Prison Gangs

Montgomery, Michael. Locked Down: Gangs in the Supermax. American RadioWorks (St. Paul, MN). 2012. Accessed December 19, 2014. 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.
 Prison Offenders: Prison Gangs, Prison Stories, Prison News. 2011. Accessed December 19, 2014. 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.
 Prison Slang Words. 2011. 6 pages. Accessed December 19, 2014. list of words tends to focus on gang slang.
Morris, Madeline, Eberhard Frances, Rivers Jessica, Watsula Michael. Deradicalization: A Review of the Literature with Comparison to Findings in the Literatures on Deganging and Deprogramming. Institute for Homeland Security Solutions (IHSS) (Research Triangle Park, NC). 2010. 13 pages. Accessed December 19, 2014.“This research brief reviews the literature on deradicalization and evaluates the methodology of deradicalization programs, based on the research identifying individual motivations for entering and exiting terrorist organizations, providing comparison with relevant findings in the literatures on “deprogramming” of cult members and “deganging” (p. 1). 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.
Hamm, Mark S. National Institute of Justice (Washington, DC). Terrorist Recruitment in American Correctional Institutions: An Exploratory Study of Non-Traditional Faith Groups. 2007. 128 p. Accessed December 19, 2014. 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).
 Correctional Institution Inspection Committee: Security Threat Groups. Correctional Institution Inspection Committee (Columbus, OH). 2012. 3 pages. Accessed December 19, 2014. 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.
 Security Threat Groups on the Inside. Texas Dept. of Criminal Justice (Austin, TX). 2007. 5 pages. Accessed December 19, 2014. 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.
Knox, George W. 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. National Gang Crime Research Center (NGCRC) (Peotone, IL). 2012. 35 pages. Accessed December 19, 2014. 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).
 Gang and Security Threat Group Awareness. Florida Dept. of Corrections. Security Threat Intelligence Unit (Tallahassee, FL). 2014. Accessed December 19, 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.
 Security Threat Group Identification and Management Strategy. California Dept. of Corrections and Rehabilitation (Sacramento, CA). 2012. 115 pages. Accessed December 19, 2014."The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) historically has approached gang identification and management through intervention and suppression strategies and has been successful in reducing the impact sophisticated gang members have in CDCR facilities … CDCR’s current policy for identifying prison based gang members and associates and isolating them from the general population will be replaced with a more effective model that identifies, targets and manages Security Threat Groups (STG) and utilizes a behavior based “Step Down” Program (SDP). This program will afford offenders the opportunity to work their way from a restricted program back to a general population setting by demonstrating a willingness and commitment to discontinue gang activity while in a CDCR facility … This complex retooling of CDCR’s gang management strategy will require significant changes to regulations, practices, and institutional culture to ensure success. Any change of this magnitude and its associated potential risk must be done thoughtfully, methodically and deliberately. While these changes will not happen overnight, the recommended policy described in this document will support California’s efforts toward establishing a more effective model of managing gangs in a prison environment" (p. 2-3). The primary report provides sections covering: background; definitions; purpose and scope; roles and responsibility; certification process; validation process; security threat group management; debriefing; and implementation process. The assorted supplemental documents package includes: Security Threat Group Identification and Management policy; validation worksheet; affiliation identifying questionnaire; validation notice; protective custody investigation report; "National Best Practices to Address Prison Violence" survey by Miki Vohryzek-Bolden; and "Recommendations to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to Address Violence in Male Prisons" by Miki Vohryzek-Bolden.

Youth Gangs

Egley, Arlen, Jr, Howell James C. Highlights of the 2010 National Youth Gang Survey. U.S. Dept. of Justice. Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (Washington, DC). 2012. 4 pages. Accessed December 19, 2014. individuals concerned about juvenile gangs in the United States should read this review. Sections of this summary are: key points; survey findings for gang-related offenses, gang-member migration, and external gang influences; and conclusion. “The prevalence rate of gang activity remained relatively stable from 2005 to 2010, in contrast to the drop in overall crime over the past decade. In 2010, gang activity and serious gang crime remained highly concentrated in the most populated jurisdictions. Nationally, gang-related homicides increased more than 10 percent from 2009 to 2010 in very large cities” (p. 4).
Wolf, Angela, Gutierrez Livier. It's About Time: Prevention and Intervention Services for Gang-Affiliated Girls. National Council on Crime and Delinquency (NCCD) (Oakland, CA). 2012. 8 pages. Accessed December 19, 2014.“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.
Egley, Arlen, Jr., Howell James C. Highlights of the 2011 National Youth Gang Survey. U.S. Dept. of Justice. Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) (Washington, DC). 2013. 4 pages. Accessed December 19, 2014.“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.
 U.S. Dept. of Justice. Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) (Washington, DC). G.R.E.A.T. – Gang Resistance Education and Training. Institute for Intergovernmental Research (IIR). G.R.E.A.T. Program (Tallahassee, FL). 2013. Accessed December 19, 2014.“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.
Whitbeck, Barbara. 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. Washington State Dept. of Social and Health Services. Research and Data Analysis (RDA) Division (Olympia, WA). 2010. 76 pages. Accessed December 19, 2014."A large percentage of Washington’s gang-affiliated and violent youth spend at least some time in Washington’s juvenile institutions or county detention centers (or both). The multiple problems and aggressive tendencies of these youth can create safety issues inside residential facilities, and can prevent youth from moving beyond detention to more pro-social and productive lives. For these reasons, Washington’s Juvenile Rehabilitation Administration [JRA] commissioned this report to determine which evidence-based practices [EBPs] and promising practices work best for serious juvenile offenders, and what factors need to be considered when implementing best practices" (p. 1). Since a wide range of effective programming for juvenile gang members and/or violent juvenile offenders is examined, this report is important reading for anyone working with this juvenile population. Six parts follow an executive summary: JRA and juvenile justice in Washington State; youth gangs and violent juvenile offenders; evidence-based practices—cognitive-behavioral treatment (CBT) programs, family-focused programs, and other programs; promising practices—multiple services programs, substance abuse treatment programs, mentoring programs, academic and employment programs, staff training programs, and others; key factors for program success; and discussion and conclusions. Appendixes provide; additional information about EBPs covered in Part III; and additional information and resources regarding the promising programs described in Part IV.
Isorena, Teresa. Review of the Phoenix/New Freedom Gang Intervention Curriculum. California Dept. of Corrections and Rehabilitation. Adult Research Branch (Sacramento, CA). 2009. 8 p. Accessed December 19, 2014. 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.