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

Problem of Gangs and Security Threat Groups (STG's) in American Prisons and Jails Today: Recent Findings From the 2012 NGCRC National Gang/STG Survey

NCJ Number
Journal of Gang Research Volume: 20 Issue: 1 Dated: Fall 2012 Pages: 51-76
George W. Knox, Ph.D.
Date Published
26 pages
A mail survey of 148 adult prisons and county jails in 48 States (the 2012 National Gang Crime Research Center's National Gang/STG Survey) was used to develop new insights into gang recruiting and other problems related to security threat groups (STGs) in American prisons and jails.
A STG, which includes gangs, is defined in this article as "any group of three or more persons with recurring threatening or disruptive behavior." Based on survey findings, the overall conclusion is that the national surveys since 1990 indicate that gang/STG density (percentage of inmates who are gang or STG members) is increasing in American jails and prisons. In fact, it is not an exaggeration to conclude that they run the jails and prisons because of the power they wield in these environments. Most of the survey respondents were pessimistic about the future, as they expect the gang or STG problem to increase in the next few years. The National Gang Crime Research Center (NGCRC) will take these findings into consideration as it improves the training curriculum for correctional officers, especially the advanced training offered by the NGCRC for STG coordinators. Gang recruitment in jails and prison is considered by most survey respondents to be a significant problem. Survey findings also indicate that there are many problems involving inmate religion that overlap with gangs, STGs, racial conflict, extremism, and other challenges. Some of these issues are discussed in this article, along with institutional responses to problems related to inmate gangs and STGs. The latter include data on the effectiveness of housing gang inmates separately or together, policies regarding inmate mail and telephone communications, the changing nature of prison riots in America. Strategies used to control gangs, and negotiations with gang/STG leaders to "keep the peace." 55 bibliographic listings