Essay on Prison Gangs: Gangs and Security Threat Group Awareness

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One of the major problems of corrections today is the security threat group - more commonly known as the prison gang. A security threat group (STG) can be defined as any group of offenders who pose a treat to the security and physical safety of the institution. Throughout the 1960's and 1970's, prison gangs focused primarily on uniting inmates for self protection and the monopolization of illegal prison activities for monetary gain (F.B.P., 1994, p. 2). STGs are mostly divided along racial lines and practiced defiance towards authority. STGs use a variety of hand signs, alphabet codes, tattoos, and different types of gang terminology. Gangs characteristically have rivals and make an alliance with other gangs. The criminal activity of …show more content…
“Sponsorship is mandatory, and only after acceptance may an inmate identify himself with a tattoo or patch” (Ralph, 1997, p.185). Most gangs utilize a “blood in, blood out basis for gang membership: A would-be member must stab a gang’s enemy in order to be admitted, and once in cannot drop out without endangering his own life” (Clear and Cole, 2000, p.260). Besides killing a rival there are other ways to enter the gang and receive acceptance. Those ways include, but are not limited to, assaulting an officer, doing drug deals, or “catching a cell” which means to go into a cell with members of the gang for which the recruit is trying to enter and fighting against them to determine if the prospective member can “hold his own”. These methods of entrance are what contribute to a large majority of the prison violence. The past prison experience relied on “the order and stability provided by the old inmate subculture (which) has been replaced by an atmosphere of conflict and tension, in which inmates align themselves into competing gangs and other inmate organizations” (Bohm and Haley, 1999, p. 351). The gang culture is also based on loyalty and trust of fellow members, such as a “united as one” attitude. This attitude has brought up confidence in offenders, but helped to diminish the effectiveness of the authority of the correctional officers. With the problem of gangs in hand, many states have…

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