The Original Prison Gangs

Security Threat Groups - STG

History and background:  There are five original major prison gangs known as "Traditional Prison Gangs." These prison gangs, known for their violence, formed in the 1960's and 1970's in the California corrections system and were originally formed by inmates as a means to protect themselves from other groups and inmate predators. Most major prison gangs, also known as Security Threat Groups (STG) are found in the states of California, Arizona, Texas and Florida, but they are also in many other states where they have had a major impact on  the state prison systems,  They have also spread throughout the Federal Bureau of Prisons where they are known as "disruptive groups."  In addition to the original prison gangs there are many other prison gangs.  Some have similar names but in most cases, have no direct connection to the original gangs other than friendly alliances.

Joining the list of of the five traditional prison gangs is a group known as the "Ñetas", which originated in the Puerto Rico prison system and has spread to the United States. This group may be found in prison systems (primarily, the East Coast) that have a Puerto Rican or Hispanic inmate population.

These prison gangs, whether Black, Hispanic, or White gangs, are known for their viciousness and violence and use this reputation to maintain power and control over other inmates. The violence includes assaults and murders of inmates, correctional officers and persons outside of the prison walls.

The links below offer the viewer different perspectives on the history and backgrounds of the "traditional" prison gangs.

Traditional Prison Gangs - Security Threat Groups

The following links provide information about the original prison gangs.  The information consists of the gang's histories, tattoos, symbols, rivals, enemies and more. 

Other Prison Gangs

Subsequent to the establishment of the original prison gangs, other inmates for their own reasons, began forming other similar prison gangs.  Some of these gangs are sub-chapters or sub-sets of the original gangs and in many cases, they exist with the blessing of the original gang leadership.  Others are copy-cat gangs, who, although similar in names, are bitter enemies.

Additional Prison Gang Information

An excellent source for prison gang information

Locked Down - Prison Gangs in Supermax

Federal Bureau of Prisons

FBI Report - Freedom of Information


Other Significant Prison Gangs

Foreign Prison Gang Problems

Prison gangs are not unique to the United States. View the link below for information about South African prison gangs.

Gangs Behind Bars - an Analysis

Pelican Bay - The Gang Prison

ARIZONA DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS ATTEMPTS TO CURB PRISON VIOLENCE – Sends prison gang leaders to other states to isolate them. Will it work? Read the article below.

Robert Walker
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