U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

NCJRS Virtual Library

The Virtual Library houses over 235,000 criminal justice resources, including all known OJP works.
Click here to search the NCJRS Virtual Library

Gangs and Gang Identification

NCJ Number
Jail Operations Bulletin Volume: 4 Issue: 1 Dated: 1992 Pages: -
C Thorne
Date Published
5 pages
This bulletin instructs jail officers about inmate gangs and explains how to understand and control the activities of gang members in the jail.
Many youth are attracted to the perceived glamour and safety they associate with gangs. They also expect that the gang will meet social and emotional needs that have not been met by their families or mainstream society. Because of the popularity of gangs, there is an increase in the number of gang members in jails. This increasing number of inmate gang members has led to increased violence, drug trafficking, and the use of weapons in jails. Gang members smuggle drugs into the jail to sell to other inmates, to control other inmates, and to show off their abilities. Often they will enlist the aid of inmates who are not gang members. Jail officers must learn to identify gang members and to separate rival gangs. In order to maintain control over gang activities, it is important for officers to learn members' monikers and learn to read gang graffiti and tattoos. The more an officer knows about the jail population, the better that officer will be able to manage the inmates and reduce problems. Otherwise, the officer may find that the gang members, through their numbers and their powers of intimidation, have gained control over the other inmates. Review questions and 5 suggested readings