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Sorry for the late Wednesday post, a little behind the usual schedule due to the work tempo this week. Skarbek explains that Security Threat Groups (STG) are essentially known as prison gangs, an informal or formal group of inmates in prison. Security Threat Group is the official term used by law enforcement officials to mitigate the use of the word gang, in order to take away the power of the word “gang”, so that it is not used as recognition (Skarbek, 2011).  A prison gang is an organization of inmates that is ran within the prison system. It is a group that is exclusive, where the members accepted are restricted and usually requires a lifetime commitment (Butler & Slade, 2018). Some of the reasons why someone who was not in a gang prior to being incarcerated vary, there is not an always answer and/or a never answer. One of the reasons an individual will join a gang in prison, and probably the most common reason, would be for safety. If an individual within the confinement area feels alone and vulnerable, they will seek out a prison gang to enlist into in order to keep themselves safe, knowing that they are less likely to be ganged up on themselves and become a victim to inmate on inmate crimes, such as a physical beating or a sexual assault (Tapia, Sparks & Miller, 2014). Just as seen in movies, if an individual has no friends on the inside (of the prison), then they are alone and on their own, leaving them vulnerable to. Also, there can be repercussions if an individual does not join a gang when they are confronted. These inmates may be sought out due to their size, fighting ability, the reason they are in prison, and popularity, which all factor into their credibility. If an individual is respected or feared from the other prisoners, then they have more power to give to that gang that is recruiting them. Other reasons to join a gang could be as simple as heritage or race, where there are gangs that make up only a specific race. Per research and studies, gang activity has steadily increased over the last two decades, where a majority of this involvement is from gang members already being a part of a gang in some way (Skarbek, 2011). Which brings up the next topic on why someone would join a gang. It is in due part to protect themselves, but if a member of an opposite gang is discovered while imprisoned, then they are more likely to be targeted than an individual who is not. For example, gang B discovers than an inmate in the common area is a member of gang A, but gang A member does not have a gang within the facility, then that puts him at risk. So gang A member will search out another gang to join, gang C, so that gang C will protect him from gang B. If that confuses anyone, I apologize but hope it sheds more light on the topic. 


Butler, M., & Slade, G. (2018). Self-governing prisons: Prison gangs in an international perspective. Trends in Organized Crime, 1–16.

Skarbek, D. (2011). Governance and Prison Gangs. American Political Science Review, 105(4), 702–716.

Tapia, M., Sparks, C., & Miller, J. (2014). Texas Latino Prison Gangs: An Exploration of Generational Shift and Rebellion. The Prison Journal, 94(2), 159–179.


No matter where one goes, it seems organized crime is always there somehow. This is no exception when speaking of prisons. Inside prisons, it appears that gangs can be formed despite all the security that prisons have within them. These gangs are a major threat to not only their fellow inmates, but the officers who patrol and keep order in the prison as well. This makes the world a bit of a dangerous place for them when prison gangs form. These gangs form for a variety of reasons, and require strategies to combat with the prison system.

Gangs within the prison form for a variety of reasons. Many are united by things such as color, religion, gender, and sexuality (Gundur 2018). Many people who join  the prison gangs tend to follow the gang because they feel they need to be protected from the other inmates by the gang (Gundur 2018). Many prisoners also tend to feel the need to be apart of something larger than themselves, and believe the gang to be that higher being that will give them a sense of belonging (Gundur 2018). Another common reason that prison gangs form is to give a gang from the outside world power on the inside, and to act as their will within the prison (Gundur 2018). Sometimes these gangs will also find ways to employ prison guards to help them (Gundur 2018). These gangs can pose a threat to the officers in the prison as well as their fellow inmates. They require strategies to stop.

The correctional staff in prisons must develop strategies to keep the prison gangs away from having too much power. Sometimes the prison guard will separate known members of prison gangs to keep them from being able to communicate with one another and make any plans to do illegal things while in prison (Butler 2018). They may also set in motion much stricter regulations on how much free time inmates have a day, and may set penalties for becoming a member of a gang on the inside (Butler 2018). Other things the prison staff may do are things such as the investigation of these gangs through any means necessary (Butler 2018). They may also keep gang members from seeing their family to try and encourage leaving the gang with that as a motivator (Butler 2018). The prison staff is tasked with keeping the gangs from getting powerful and they have many strategies to deal with it.

Prison gangs are an interior threat to the prison, especially the other inmates and staff. The prison staff must develop and utilize strategies to keep the gangs in check and away from hurting other inmates and the staff of the prison. Such strategies are important to know and use when lives are on the line. If these strategies are not truly used in the prison it can endanger many lives including the prison staff. Prison gangs are dangerous and need to be controlled through the use of many strategies.



Butler, M., Slade, G., & Camila, N. D. (2018). Self-governing prisons: Prison gangs in an international perspective. Trends in Organized Crime, , 1-16. doi:http://dx.doi.org.ezproxy2.apus.edu/10.1007/s12117-018-9338-7

Gundur, R. V. (2018). The changing social organization of prison protection markets: When prisoners choose to organize horizontally rather than vertically. Trends in Organized Crime, , 1-19. doi:http://dx.doi.org.ezproxy2.apus.edu/10.1007/s12117-018-9332-0