Dropping Out of Gangs in Prison

5:12 PM, Apr 5, 2007   |    comments
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California's prisons are not only overcrowded, many of the inmates are gang members as well. Tracy's Deuel Vocation Institute is no exception with about half of its prisoners in gangs. But thousands of male prisoners have left their gangs as part of a program that offers them the opportunity to leave that lifestyle. It's not easy for gang members to drop out. Through the "debrief" process, they must prove to prison officials they're sincere. They must also provide information about their gangs that could eventually be helpful to police. Because that intelligence is shared, gang members are offered protective custody after dropping out -- continuing to live among gang members would be dangerous. One ex-gang member at Deuel says he expects to be a target for retaliation. "I know too much, my hands are too dirty, too many secrets, have to be shut down, I know that's coming. My family already is out of state, anything I love or care about is hidden, or well aware," he told News10. Officials estimate there are about 10,000 gang drop-outs in California prisons. Prison gang membership is different than street gangs that are typically in the news. Street gangs are based on territory while prison gangs are separated by race.


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