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An ex-gang member, now director of a community-based anti-gang program, told me "As a black male, I thought prison was a natural right of passage - certainly in my surroundings. it was my rite of passage into adulthood." In its Colorado incarnation, each member (of La Nuestra Familia - a prison-based Chicano gang) contributes as a mutual aid society and is benefited by his contributions, especially in times of need.
They were arrested, incarcerated and, while incarcerated, continue to recruit and build their gang.
Other gang members in prison had no gang affiliation prior to their imprisonment but joined one of the prison gangs - many of which have counterparts on the streets.
Illinois reported that 34.3 percent of inmates belonged to a prison gang, which was then the highest percent of prison gang-affiliated inmates in the nation Lane reported that the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) estimated the inmate gang population to be nearly 90 percent of the entire population, attributing that number to the importation of gangs from Chicagos streets, which is supported by research.
Reesshows that Chicago police estimated more than 19,000 gang members in that city and a high percent of IDOC inmates were arrested in Cook County.
There's no way to know how many prisons have gang member inmates due, in part, to the fact that "Politics generally determine whether agencies [prisons] ...
admit to having STGs [Security Threat Groups like gangs]." It may also be impossible to gather accurate information on how many of America's prisoners are involved in gang activity.Knox and Tromanhauser suggest there are approximately 100,000 or more prison gang members across the nation.Subsequent to Camp and Camp the American Correctional Association found that prison gang membership doubled between 19 from 12,624 to 46,190, with relatively few gang members in minimum security units.Other correctional agencies, however, report their gang troubles started inside rather than outside prison walls.Camp and Camp cite that of the 33 agencies surveyed, 26 reported street counterparts to prison gangs.Another 6% engaged in illegal activities with groups exhibiting only three or four gang characteristics.If a prison gang were defined as a group of inmates characterized as sharing at least three of the six characteristics identified above, in addition to committing crimes in the prison, then approximately twelve percent (12%) of the prison inmates were likely involved in gangs in 1991.Moreover, the gang serves to reduce the potential for psychological and physical violence against its members.As the gang phenomenon has grown and spread in America's cities and counties, there has been a parallel growth and spread of gangs in America's prisons.Prison gangs disrupt correctional programming, threaten the safety of inmates and staff, and erode institutional quality of life.The authors review the history of, and correctional mechanisms to cope with prison gangs.