The Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) does not want gangs in the prison system. In this post, we will address the effects of gang membership in TDCJ and how to get out of a gang the right way. First, we will detail the gangs recognized by TDCJ. Second, we explain the consequences of gang affiliation. Third, we go through TDCJ’s Gang Renouncement and Disassociation (GRAD) process. Lastly, we cover the effect gang membership has on parole.
Security Threat Groups – Gangs in TDCJ
In this section, we will identify TDCJ’s name for gangs and the 12 recognized gangs. First, TDCJ calls gangs “Security Threat Groups (STGs),” and defines them as “any group of offenders [they] reasonably believe pose a threat to the physical safety of other offenders and staff.” Additionally, TDCJ’s Security Threat Group Management Office (STGMO) recognizes 12 STGs:
- Aryan Brotherhood of Texas
- Aryan Circle
- Barrio Azteca
- Hermanos De Pistoleros Latinos
- Mexican Mafia
- Partido Revolucionario Mexicanos
- Texas Mafia
- Raza Unida
- Texas Chicano Brotherhood
- Texas Syndicate
Consequences of Gang Affiliation
Many join gangs hoping to be protected. This is a false hope. Gang rivalries and coercion incite violence. This endangers your loved one in prison and can threaten the safety of your family outside of prison. Other negative consequences include:
- Not allowed to have contact visits;
- Number of visits allowed may decrease;
- Not allowed to participate in any academic activity;
- Not allowed to participate in any vocational activity;
- TDCJ does not give consideration for emergency absences;
- TDCJ does not give diligent participation in good time credits;
- Not allowed to work;
- Restricted movement;
- Placement in Administrative Segregation;
- State and local law enforcement agencies are notified upon release; and
- Could affect parole release.
Gang Renouncement and Disassociation (GRAD)
In this section, we detail the phases and steps involved in the Gang Renouncement and Disassociation (GRAD) process. The eligibility requirements for GRAD are:
- No STG activity involvement for at least one year;
- A completed and signed Gang Member Disassociation Packet;
- No Level I administrative segregation assignments for the six months before enrollment;
- No Level I major disciplinary cases for at least two years before enrollment for: a) offender assault; b) staff assault; c) aggressive sexual misconduct; or d) weapon possession (TDCJ reviews all other Level 1 major disciplinary cases on a case by case basis after one year);
- No Level 2 or 3 major disciplinary cases for at least six months before enrollment;
- The State Classification Committee reviews on a case-by-case basis the following security precaution designators: Escape (ES), Staff Assault (SA), or Hostage Situation (HS).
- Have not previously completed the Returning Population Gang Renouncement and Disassociation Program (RP-GRAD) or GRAD process.
Enrolling in the GRAD Program
To start the GRAD process, your loved one must first contact the Security Threat Group Officer (STGO) at their unit and renounce their gang affiliation. Second, the STGO interviews your loved one and investigates their claim of dissociation. Third, the STGO makes a recommendation to the STG management office in Huntsville. Fourth, the STG management office determines GRAD enrollment eligibility. Throughout the enrollment process, your loved one can check on the progress of their request to enter the GRAD program by contacting the STGO on their unit and/or the Regional Coordinator for that unit.
The GRAD Process Phases and Classes
The three phases of the nine-month GRAD program are:
- Phase I (Approximately 2 months):
Substance abuse classes, Alcoholics Anonymous, Chaplaincy videos.
- Phase II (Approximately 4 months):
Cognitive intervention, anger management/substance abuse, criminal addictive behavior.
- Phase III (Approximately 3 months):
1/2-day work schedule, laundry, fields, food service, 1/2-day unit programs.
Gang Affiliation and Parole
The Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles must consider gang membership as one of the factors in deciding if your loved one should be granted parole. The parole board considers ten factors: five static factors that do not change and five dynamic factors that do change. We believe the dynamic factors are critical to your loved one’s success seeking to be released on parole. Why? Most of the dynamic factors address how your loved one adapts to life in prison. Your loved one has the opportunity to work, learn, grow and better themselves in TDCJ. Doing these things will help them successfully reintegrate into society. Gang membership is a dynamic factor the parole board considers. Encourage your loved one to stay out of gangs. Gang membership reduces your love one’s chances for parole. It can be the difference between approval and rejection for early release.
If your loved one is a gang member, please have them complete the GRAD process and contact us to get your questions answered. We are here to help and serve you and your loved one!