By Jordan, Michelle.
Corrections Today , Vol. 71, No. 1
Created in 1992, the Florida Department of Corrections Security Threat Intelligence Units has become a primary source of intelligence for many federal, state and local law enforcement agencies. The unit's mission is no maintain sale and secure operations for staff, visitors and inmates by Identifying, certifying and monitoring security threat group (STG) activity; coordinating all intelligence with fellow criminal justice agencies; and providing community awareness programs and education.
The DOC defines an STG as a formal or informal ongoing inmate group, gang, organization on association comprising three or more members who:
* Have a common name or common identifying signs, colors or symbols;
* Individually or collectively engage in or have engaged in a pattern of gang activity, criminal activity or departmental rule violations; or
* Potentially pose a threat to the public, staff, visitors, inmates or the secure and orderly operation of a facility or probation office.
The Extent of the Problem
Since the Security Threat Intelligence Unit was formed, gang membership has grown inside prisons as well as in communities. In a 10-year period, the number of gang members incarcerated in Florida prisons increased from 1,793 in September 1998 to 5,609 in September 2008. Table 1 shows the increases in membership of the DOC's top-10 gangs from 2006 through 2008.
In a stud conducted by the DOC Bureau of Data and Research, every county in Florida has at least one gang member incarcerated in state prison Table 2 lists the 10 counties with highest conviction rate of gang members in the past three years.
Gang-related criminal activities in Florida also have increased every year since 1990. The crimes committed have become more and more violent (see Table 3). For example, the number of gang members convicted of capital murder increased 22.44 percent from 2006 to 2008.
In 2007, the fiscal cost of incarceration for convicted gang members was approximately $84 million. The cost for those on probation was approximately $2 million.
Table 1. Top 10 Gangs in Florida Prisons, 2006-2008 Date 7/31/2006 7/31/2007 7/31/2008 Latin Kings 571 684 784 Gangster Disciples 233 252 337 Folk Nation 234 263 262 Crips 204 224 262 Black Gangster Disciples 175 201 238 White Supremist 195 209 196 Neta/Netas 137 198 204 Insane Gangster Disc 122 158 213 Bloods 120 139 195 SurXHI 74 100 144 Table 2. Florida Counties With the Highest Conviction Rates, 2006-2008 Date 7/31/2006 7/31/2007 7/31/2008 Miami-Dade 477 548 604 Hillsborough 382 519 621 Broward 427 475 519 Orange 215 254 343 Pinellas 180 235 311 Polk 182 220 273 Palm Beach 173 209 258 Duval 170 201 245 Volusia 96 120 152 Manatee 83 103 125
Tracking Gang Members
To monitor the increase in gang members, the Florida DOC has assigned STG coordinators to each of the 62 major institutions. With regard to community corrections, there are STG coordinators in every judicial circuit that monitors gang activity for those on supervised probation.
The Security Threat Intelligence Unit corresponds daily with each coordinator on such things as officer safety bulletins, law enforcement bulletins and any pertinent information dealing with new gangs organizing within the prisons or in the community. …