Webinar Notes: Security Threat Groups

Security Threat Groups with Ben Griego


Security Threat Groups vs Gangs (00:45)

  • Gangs coming into prisons were started to be monitored and categorized in the 80s to 90s.
  • 1987 – Experts pointed out issues brought by gangs in prison.
  • Some members continued affiliation with street gangs while some inmates were drawn into prison gangs.
  • Effects on the transition in Prisons
  • Conditions of Confinement Lawsuits (overcrowding, costs)
  • Federal Court Oversight
  • 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA)
  • Inmate litigation on gang member identification


1993 RFRA Affected Prison Systems (08:33)

  • STGs operate under guise of Religious Groups
  • White Supremacists
  • Asatru
  • Christian Identity
  • Nation of Islam
  • Moorish Science Temple
  • National Major Gang Task Force monitored STG activity
  • The term Security Threat Group (STG) was coined to provide structure in identifying affiliations to groups.
  • Used post-9/11 as radicalization in the prison system may have resulted in terrorism.
  • Developed an objective process to demonstrate identification and affiliation levels.
  • Identification features (e.g. tattoo)
  • Documentations (e.g. photos, documents)


Identification Process (16:16)

  • Intake process
  • Interview process
  • Formalized booking questions
  • Specific questions to STG affiliation
  • Photo documentation of markings and tattoos
  • Add to or build history based on documentation


Classification (23:10)

  • Objective process to determine inmate housing
  • Facility determination on housing or separation
  • Separation needs
  • STG
  • Co-defendants
  • Witness Issues
  • Housing based on jail or prison
  • Non-adjucated vs. sentenced
  • Misdemeanants vs. felons
  • Juveniles vs. adults


Management Strategies During Incarceration (30:23)

  • Intelligence gathering and dissemination
  • Internal vs. External Dynamics
  • What activity is prevalent inside?
  • Which groups are inside the facility?
  • What activity is prevalent outside?
  • Mail monitoring
  • Phone monitoring
  • Social media


Documentation Process (38:05)

  • Activity while incarcerated
  • Associates inside and out
  • Who has access to documentation (Electronic vs Paper)
  • Communication amongst staff
  • Clear flow of information and intelligence
  • Raw intelligence vs. Confirmed intelligence


Current Trends (43:34)

  • Traditional STGs challenged by younger groups
  • Clean members and associates hiring into LEO
  • No tattoos
  • Clean background
  • No rap sheet
  • Federal attention to STG and relationships with terrorist organizations
  • RICO / Organized Crime Cases
  • Contraband
  • Cellphone/Social Media
  • Drones dropping contraband to prisons
  • Staff compromised, cases of bribery and hauling contraband
  • Threat to Prison Directors
  • Assassination of the Director in Colorado
  • New Mexico Security Director Death Plot


Policy vs Practice (49:24)

  • Do you have an STG Policy?
  • Is the policy in place and adhered to?
  • Does your agency follow the objectives of the policy?
  • Prison gang and STG involved in 8 out of 10 serious incidents
  • What is hindering the practice?
  • Time
  • Manpower
  • Job Description
  • Training
  • Staff culture and consistency
  • Internal training to identify inmates involved
  • Consistent application of policy in general
  • Political Barriers
  • Administration’s apathy
  • Administration’s proactiveness
  • Administration budgeting


Proactive (52:14)

  • Behavior modification or Stepdown Programs (18 to 24-month programs)
  • Zero tolerance to gang activity
  • Lockdown 23 hours a day
  • Progressive discipline
  • Investigative techniques
  • Charge felony cases
  • In relationship with local prosecutor, district attorney, local agency
  • Intelligence meetings
  • Internal
  • STG Officers
  • Assistant Wardens
  • Chiefs
  • Security Staff
  • Unit Teams
  • Local task force
  • Networking with other agencies
  • Someone to contact on a nationwide level


Conferences Coming Up and Links to Resources (56:50)

  • National Institute for Jail Operations

April 18-20, Scottsdale, AZ


  • Arizona Gang Investigators Association

June 6-9, Tempe, AZ


  • Colorado STING

June 12-14, Colorado Springs, CO


  • International Outlaw Motorcycle Gang Investigators Association

August 21-24, Scottsdale, AZ



To reach Ben Griego (57:51)


Correctional Solutions

Email:               [email protected]

Call or text:      719-271-7424

*National expert on Hawaiian Gangs



“The intelligence gathered on a daily basis, whether the staff is doing cell searches, finding notes that are written, finding pictures maybe the individual was able to get in. Whatever it might be that they're finding, they need to get it in to the central source, so that it may be the other piece of the puzzle that your intelligence section, whether it's STG, whether it is your investigator, whether it's a specific area that's putting all these together, can start to look at it and say “hey we need to get this out, various inmates are putting the same tattoo, they’re changing it””

"Are there things going on outside the facility that is affecting what's happening inside the prison? You need to be really watching and looking at that. Looking at what's happening inside and how it affects what's going on outside".

“Inmates sending letters out to a fictitious address knowing that it’s gonna get returned to sender, and the return to sender is really another inmate in prison that they wanted the letter to actually go to. So they use the US mail service to move their mail from their location within the prison, out and back into another individual”.

"Organized prison gangs putting together a process where either just to threaten them, scare them off, or actually follow through like they did in Colorado. You see them going after the top guy, the top person in the organization. Used to be, they threaten staff – I've been threatened many times, been on hit lists – the line level staff, just intimidation. But now we're starting to see this trend and it's very concerning and alarming"

Additional Resources
4 years ago
Security Threat Groups and Gangs in Prisons and Jails
For many people, when word “gangs” is mentioned, one thinks of groups of criminals in society.  […]
4 years ago
Identifying and Managing Security Threat Groups in Corrections Facilities: An Interview with Ben Griego
For many people, when the word, “gangs,” is mentioned, they think of groups of criminals in soci […]