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Prison Gangs and Security Threat Groups

From a historical standpoint, prison gangs first emerged in the 1950s in Washington State. Their purpose was to provide social support among inmates and to provide protection from persecution and abuse by more predatory inmates or groups of inmates. After emergence in Washington, additional and separate prison gangs formed in other states such as California, Illinois, and Texas in the 1960s. In 2011, the National Gang Intelligence Center estimated that 230,000 gang members were incarcerated in federal and state prisons. If the behavior of any inmate group behavior poses a threat within the correctional environment or threatens to disrupt prison control, the group may be labeled as a strategic threat group. This entry focuses on prison gangs and strategic threat groups as well as ...

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