Back to top

Gangs (Security Threat Groups) - Prison Gangs

Gangs are outside and inside prisons, and can cause an even more dangerous working environment; learn how each gang works in order to incorporate that knowledge into your day-to-day duties

This January 2014 report from the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction provides statistics, definitions and a classification process on Security Threat Groups.

"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.

› Gang and Security Threat Group Awareness Cover

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.

Purpose Serious head injuries, also known as traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), are associated with an increase in aggression and violent tendencies. The current study extends the literature on head injuries by examining whether gang membership is associated with an elevated risk of head injury in prison, and the extent to which this relationship is mediated by different forms of prison violence. Methods We use data from the LoneStar Project, a representative sample of 802 men imprisoned in Texas. We assess the gang membership-head injury link using logistic regression and Karlson-Holm-Breen (KHB) mediation. Results Prison gang members were >2.5 times as likely to report a head injury in prison compared to non-gang members (OR = 2.593; 95% CI = 1.220–5.509), net of controls. KHB mediation analyses reveal that violent misconduct and violent victimization collectively reduced the magnitude of the relationship between gang membership and in-prison head injury by 34.84%. Conclusions Prison gang members have a higher risk of head injury in prison, which we demonstrate is largely a function of their increased involvement in prison violence. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) interventions should be used to lessen the negative repercussions from head injury and would be beneficial for reentry preparation.

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.

In this paper, Benjamin Lessing argues that prison gangs present three distinct problems for policymakers. First, many typical responses to prison-gang activity have unintended and deeply counterproductive consequences. Second, it is unclear that reducing incarceration rates or improving prison conditions would neutralize the authority that prison gangs have accumulated as a result of mass-incarceration policies. And, finally, it is not clear that reducing prison-gang authority would produce positive outcomes.

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.

Effective security threat group (STG) management within CDCR prisons requires a comprehensive strategy that includes prevention, identification, interdiction and rehabilitation. CDCR recognized the need to evaluate its previous strategy and developed new approaches in response to evolving correctional practices.


This webpage from the Arizona Department of Corrections provides information on STG terminology, earmarks, membership validation, FAQs and more.


Subscribe to Gangs (Security Threat Groups) - Prison Gangs