The NIJ Working Group identified the transition between street and prison gangs, the use of advanced statistical analysis techniques, the use of secondary data to study gangs and improving the methods of measuring the effectiveness of prevention, intervention and deterrence programs as key issues. This project addresses those issues with a study that has three components. The first component involves the use of official records before, during and after release in three states (Ohio, Texas and Virginia) and is the primary activity of Phase II of this project. The second component of the study employs a pre-release survey of 800 gang and non-gang inmates in Texas in the week prior to release. The third component of the study involves the use of follow-up interviews at two points in time during Phase I of the project with those 800 inmates during their first year of release. Six month interviews will be initiated in Phase I but not completed until Phase II.
In Phase I of the project we will address gang activity in prison, the transition from prison to the street among gang members as well as gang and non-gang re-entry issues. Phase II will involve the assessment of prison misconduct and merge interview data with institutional records.
Our research is guided by five specific research questions.
1) What are the implications of street gang membership for affiliations in prison?
2) How are prison gangs, gang life and behavior different than gangs on the street?
3) What are the implications of prison gang membership for street gang membership following release from prison?
4) What are the implications of prison gang membership for recidivism and re-entry?
5) What programming approaches are likely to be more successful with gang members in prison and upon release? (This will be addressed directly in Phase II of the project).
We have a unique opportunity to study an important yet neglected area of gang policy and practice: the transition from prison to street (and for many back to prison). We have secured letters of cooperation from the Departments of Correction in Ohio, Texas and Virginia, have an experienced team of researchers with the range of skills necessary to complete this work, and will address the issues of policy, practice and programming that emerge from this study. ca/ncf