Florida STG Intelligence Unit Aims to Keep Communities Safe

Article excerpt

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.

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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. …