Arizona has Prison Gang Problem
If you take the time to study and reveal the truth about prison gangs inside Arizona, you might be surprised just how badly they are being managed and controlled when other states are doing a better job at combating the steady increase of gang activities and recruitment efforts inside prisons.
It is very important you take the time to know what is happening as it impact community safety more than you may realize. The study of gangs and various security threat groups (STG) has been ongoing for decades now and have revealed some fundamental basic control mechanisms to address their growth and activities.
However, these control measures are only as good as the effort put forth in the enforcement and delivery of the identified tools to reduce an explosive and potentially dangerous problem behind the prison perimeters as much of the same type of violence spreads out to our communities once they are released and under the state’s supervision while on parole.
Sadly, we have seen a new dangerous trend documented in Arizona that has not been given the attention it requires and current matters can cause extreme and dangerous situations for our law enforcement community and innocents within our community. Some may remember not more than a few months ago during October, 2014, a DPS officer was shot by a gang member during a traffic stop. The officer was badly injured as they searched for the suspect who had gang network support and who were willing to aid and abet a fleeing felon in Phoenix, Arizona.
Another case in point is the recent mass shooting yesterday, in Mesa, Arizona where a suspect, an individual identified to be a member of a neo-Nazi White Supremacist group, shot one individual fatally and then went on a shooting spree that injured many more. One can only speculate how this individual was thinking as he randomly and violently spread his hate and contempt amongst his innocent victims who didn’t see this attack coming nor were the police prepared for it as well.
The correctional system failed the citizens as they dropped the ball on effective gang strategies to win this war against security threat groups inside prisons. They allowed gangs of various races to exploit their weakness and this includes legislative responsibility to fund prisons accordingly to provide a safe and secure environment to the best ability and practices available to ensure public safety measures are intact.
What can be done to reduce such threats? What must be done to control and manage such violence? The answer has been there all along since summaries and conclusions have revealed effective tools and best practices to deal with such a special problem today.
The scope of the Arizona prison gang problem shows a reality check that 25.9 % of the males were gang members before imprisoned. Only 38.2 % of the males had tattoos before entering prison. This validates the assumption that many received their tattoos while incarcerated.
Nobody likes to admit a failure rate in controlling or managing prison gangs. Only 16.7 % report to represent a severe gang problem. This is a most underrated measurement to avoid being forced into stricter and tighter gang controls by the public, the legislators and the governor.
Almost all correctional institutions acknowledge that inmates do join gangs or are recruited into gangs (94.2%) after being incarcerated when they were not gang members on the streets. The best estimate is that 11.6 percent of the male inmates were not gang members on the streets but did in fact join a gang or STG after being incarcerated (3.7 percent for female inmates). Some 63.6 percent of the respondents felt that gangs’ members have significantly affected the correctional environment.
This is a mean average computed amongst 49 entities and this puts Arizona somewhere in the top ten to show disruptive group presence or existence. Out of 49 states, only a small number of correctional systems (15.7 %) report having a program that encourages inmates to quit their gang membership.
If you have paid attention over the years, Arizona stopped reporting their gang combating efforts in a sign that they have surrendered and coping with weak and poor management practices to “control and contain” them at the very basic levels while their growth has exponentially been damaging to the corrections environment.
The best estimate is that 9.46 percent of the inmates who enter prison as gang members will quit their gang while incarcerated. A fifth (20.3%) of American prisons now have programs for inmates who want to renounce gang life. Arizona is not one of those states that implemented such gang diversion programs and instead seen the rate increase in alarming proportions.
This establishes the baseline for increased problems and violence related to gangs inside Arizona prisons. Gang leaders have been able to influence to create a for-profit business behind the razor wire that consists of drugs (87.8 %), protection (76.2 %) gambling (73.2 %) and extortion (70.1%). These are the major contributors to the series of violent assaults on other prisoners as well as staff.
Just like on the outside, gangs dominate over 60 % of the prison yards within the state. A figure that will be disputed but backed up with solid evidence that this includes such “rackets” as sex (45.1%) food (56.7%) and clothing (40.2%).
Confiscation of money inside prisons range from $ 280.00 dollars to as high as $ 7,500 showing them to have a strong affiliation with loan sharking at ridiculous interest rates. Again, this is a mean average and various on the open yards.
Most disturbing for the community are the numbers that reflect 73.6 % remain their affiliation with the gang after serving time and a whopping 82.2 % is contributed to recidivism rates costing taxpayers millions more than often funded for in the prison budget.
Most (88.4%) of the more dangerous security threat groups that exist in American prisons today also exist by the same name in the outside community. In other words, most of the dangerous prison gangs are also street gangs.
There is no consensus which gang is the most dangerous when comparing prison gangs as they each have their own rules and operate in various tactics and strategies to maintain control. Some 20.4 percent of the facilities reported that gang members have been a problem in terms of assaults on staff; a third (33.7%) reported gang members being a problem in terms of threats against staff.
Gangs or gang members account for an average of 20.6 percent of all institutional management problems is a finding of the present research; and gangs account for an average of 26.3 percent of all inmate violence. It is believed through anecdotal evidence gathered, the rate is much higher for Arizona. It is estimated that 34.5 percent of the illicit drugs smuggled into prisons today are smuggled in by prison gang members.
Prison gangs control 41.7 percent of the illicit drug trade (sales) behind bars, a factor that has increased by more than ten percentage points over the last decade. Gangs control a third (33.6%) of the illegal gambling behind bars. It is estimated that 31.5 percent of all inmate assaults involve gang members.
The suspect in the Mesa shooting is a card carrying member of a White Extremist Gang who may not join an alliance with other gangs but rarely function or operate on their own without consulting or merging strategies with other White gangs to co-exist inside prisons.
The study on prison gangs revealed, “fueling the growth of white gangs is the fact extremist ministries have had a substantial impact on proselytizing behind bars, this was indicated by the institutions reporting “inmate outreach” from Christian Identity and groups like World Church of the Creator (WCOTC). Some 29 percent of the prisons indicated inmate outreach from the Kingdom Identity Ministries, 36.6 percent indicated inmate outreach from the Church of Jesus Christ Christian, and 45.9 percent from the WCOTC.”
The top ten white prison gangs/STG’s, in terms of their spread nationwide are: Aryan Brotherhood, Aryan Nation, Skinheads (various factions), Ku Klux Klan, Peckerwoods, Aryan Circle, White Aryan Resistance (WAR), neo-Nazis (various factions), Dirty White Boys, and the United Aryan Brotherhood.
Many other such gangs obviously exist and the top fifty were described in this report. The World Church of the Creator (WCOTC) was the top leader in this area, and there was substantial overlap with the white gang list. The uniqueness of white gangs is the presence of multiple factions rather than a single faction such as there are for the other races.
Arizona has week policies for controlling gangs inside prisons. There is a consensus (84.9%) feel there is a need for tougher rules for gang control. Many correctional institutions (74.9%) have specific disciplinary rules that prohibit gang recruitment, because most (94.2%) also believe that some inmates may have voluntarily joined or may have been recruited into a gang while incarcerated. Less control translates into gang proliferation and growth.
Most (70.6%) agreed with the idea that bargaining with an inmate gang leader is similar to negotiating with a terrorist yet many are doing exactly such a practice without making it known publically or officially on the record method of dealing with prison gangs.
A low-balled percentage (again suspected embarrassment or failures to commit or enforce drives this number) only 12.7 percent indicated that staff in their facility sometimes find it necessary to negotiate with gang members in order to keep the peace. Almost all (91.5%) endorse the belief that zero tolerance is the best approach for dealing with gangs and gang members.
Various corrections issues that need to be identified:
· Few (14.5%) reported that their state has a separate correctional facility for confidential informants. (Exponentially higher is Arizona)
· Few (2.6%) allow prisoners to exchange funds with each other. (Common practice in AZ)
· About half of the prisons (47.1%) allow prisoner to prisoner mail (Common practice in AZ)
· (79.4%) agree that it is a major potential security problem.
· Respondents estimated that 12.2 percent of the inmates were mentally ill.
Perhaps what is important about gangs and STG’s in America today is nothing more than the promise implied or explicit that our correctional institutions will afford safe environments in which to work for the correctional officers and staff employed there, and the two million plus inmates who reside in these facilities.
The sad fact is Arizona has an extreme number of staff assaults by inmates because of the negative dynamics created by gang warfare and predatory behaviors. In a move to intimidate staff, gangs rule the yards in a most extreme manner with no controls in sight for the near future as there are insufficient resources available to combat this invasion of gang members.
Few in American society know the true meaning and significance of being a “correctional officer”, indeed most commonly a somewhat derogatory term is used instead to refer to this occupational sector: “prison guards”.
Many uninformed and naïve citizens continue to marginalize these correctional officers by the label of “prison guard”, a term or phrase or identifier that does not reflect the rise of a professionalism within the field of corrections. However, their rank and file are dwindling as funding is cut and budgets for prisons are short sighted creating improved conditions for gang growth and activities.
The Problem of Gangs and Security Threat Groups (STG’s) in American Prisons Today -Recent Research Findings from the 2004 Prison Gang Survey by George W. Knox, Ph.D. Copyright © 2005, National Gang Crime Research Center. http://www.ngcrc.com/corr2006.html