Resocializing and repairing homies within the Texas Prison System : a case study on security threat group management, administrative segregation, prison gang renunciation and safety for all
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This research is a case study focused on the resocialization of prison gang members through the lens of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice’s (TDCJ) Gang Renouncement and Disassociation (GRAD) process, a nine-month, three-phase voluntary process whereby confirmed prison gang, or Security Threat Group (STG), members renounce their gang membership and disassociate from the gang while still incarcerated. The TDCJ implemented its gang renunciation process to relinquish its dependence on segregating confirmed prison gang members and to provide them a way to transition out of segregation. The GRAD process has been in place since 2000 with more than 2,600 offenders completing it, but little information, other than anecdotal evidence, is available to support or disprove its success or effectiveness at de-ganging and resocializing prison gang members for the long haul. Interviews were conducted with 16 individuals, including GRAD correctional officers and instructors, and law enforcement officers with known expertise and knowledge of prison gang investigations. A limited amount of extant aggregate-level data was provided by TDCJ to supplement the narratives in the qualitative analysis. Findings suggest that the identified goals of the process differ among GRAD staff and non-GRAD staff: GRAD staff focused on offender rehabilitation, and non-GRAD staff focused on gang renunciation. It was also found that resocialization and normative change can and do occur in the closed GRAD environment; however, no tracking mechanism exists to systematically and pro-actively monitor their behavior once they are released from GRAD to determine if they have internalized these new norms and values. Based on the interviews, it also appears that the length of time spent in segregation prior to renunciation renders the offender more grateful and appreciative, and, therefore, more likely to successfully complete the process. Finally, interviews with law enforcement reveal that, upon release to the broader community, these offenders may have renounced the gang – but not the crime. The dissertation ends with limitations to the study, recommendations for future research, and implications for social work.
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