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Gangs in Correctional Facilities: A National Assessment

NCJ Number
Date Published
January 1993
134 pages
This report presents the methodology and findings of a survey of the Nation's correctional facilities to identify and examine current policies and strategies for controlling prison gangs and to describe promising innovations. Data set archived by the NIJ Data Resources Program at the National Archive of Criminal Justice Data, located at URL http://www.icpsr.umich.edu/nacjd.
The survey was sent to 125 correctional systems: The Federal Bureau of Prisons, the District of Columbia, the 50 State departments of corrections, and 73 local jail systems. On-site visits were used to amplify survey findings through in-person interviews. The survey examined how correctional facilities manage gang activities and the effect this has on prison environments, assessed innovative strategies for controlling prison activities, and identified research needs for the future. Instead of using the word "gang," the survey referred to a "security threat group" (STG). The survey defines a STG as "two or more inmates, acting together, who pose a threat to the security or safety of staff/inmates and/or is disruptive to programs and/or to the orderly management of the facility/system." This term was used rather than "gang" so as to make the survey more acceptable to recipients. The study concluded that the presence of STGs has significantly increased by percentage from 3 percent in 1985 to 6 percent in 1992. however, an accurate growth rate cannot be determined. Politics generally determined whether agencies would admit to having STGs. Of the 52 responses received from prison systems, only 15 indicated they have policy and procedures for STGs. For jails (n=46), the number dropped to six. STG intelligence units are still not well accepted. Many systems that have units operate them understaffed and underfunded. An analysis of the data collected on management strategies for prisons suggests that control over potentially problematic STGs was better when a system had a policy-and-procedures statement for the validation of STG members and made greater use of segregation, within-State transfers, and protective custody. Five topics for research are discussed.

Date Published: January 1, 1993