Security Threat Group FAQs

Why did the Arizona Legislature address the criminal street gang issue?

  • To respond to the ever increasing crime caused by street gangs.

  • To stop this mounting criminal activity.

  • To maintain public order and safety.

  • To provide for increased penalties for those found guilty of criminal gang involvement and eliminate the pattern, profits, and property helping criminal street gang activity, including street gang recruitment.

What is a criminal street gang?

A Criminal Street Gang is defined as any "Ongoing formal or informal association of persons whose members or associates individually or collectively engage in the commission, attempted commission, facilitation or solicitation of any felony act and who has at least one individual who is a criminal street gang member"

Who is a criminal street gang member?

Criminal street gang member means an individual to whom two of the following seven criteria that indicate criminal street gang membership apply: 

  1. Self Admission.
  2. Witness Testimony or official statement.
  3. Written or electronic correspondence.
  4. Paraphernalia or Photographs.
  5. Tattoos.
  6. Clothing or Colors.
  7. Any other indicia of street gang membership.

What is a Security Threat Group?

Any organization, club, association or group of individuals, formal or informal (including traditional prison gangs), that may have a common name, identifying sign or symbol, and whose members engage in activities that would include, but are not limited to planning, organizing, threatening, financing, soliciting, committing, or attempting to commit unlawful acts or an act that would violate the departments written instructions, which would detract from the safe orderly operations of prisons. 

When we talk about the gang and Security Threat Group (STG) subculture, what are the main gang categories or influences? 

The World of gangs and threat groups can become very complex. Knowing this, it helps to divide these groups into some basic categories that will form a firm foundation to learning and understanding. Most gang or STGs you will encounter will fall into one of these basic categories: 

  • Street Gangs
  • Prison Gangs
  • White Supremacy Groups
  • Motorcycle Gangs
  • Subversive Groups
  • Cult Groups

What is the difference between a Security Threat Group and a criminal street gang?

Security Threat Groups

Criminal Street Gangs

Blood in/Blood out 

Jump in/Jump out

Identifiable Leadership

No Identifiable Leader

By-Laws, or written rules Organization Structure (para military)

Loosely Structured


Not Always Racial

Traditionally Prison Spawned


Criminally more Sophisticated 

Crimes are more Spontaneous


Why is there a Security Threat Group Management Program in the Arizona Department of Corrections, Rehabilitation & Reentry?

To ensure the safe, secure, and orderly operations for staff, visitors, and inmate/offenders throughout the department by identifying, certifying and validating Security Threat Groups, individual members, and monitoring Security Threat Group activities.

What is a certified STG?

A group that has been through a formal process of identification and documentation, which after completion identifies that group and its members as a threat to the safe orderly operation of the prisons. 

Why do we call them STGs?

The term Security Threat Group is a nationally recognized term and is in use throughout most of the United States departments of correction. The term Security Threat Group accurately embraces all of the basic categories of gangs and reflects their impact on the security of prison operations. In addition it eliminates any recognition that criminals may derive from publicity about their gang, or its activities. 

How does the STG member validation process work?

A inmates STG membership is assessed by a hearing committee based on an objective review of that inmate's STG related activities. This is done by reviewing specific categories relating to the inmates activity, such as: Self Admission, Tattoos, Association, Photographs, etc. I f the committee determines the inmate meets sufficient criteria he is then validated. The inmate may appeal the committees decision at this time, or the inmate may elect to renounce his STG affiliation. 

Can I get information about a specific inmates STG/Gang involvement?

No. Although we are committed to sharing information related to gangs that are active within our state, specific intelligence related to a particular inmate's involvement is confidential and for law enforcement use only. Criminal Justice Agencies, Please contact us for more information. 

Contact the Arizona Department of Corrections, Rehabilitation & Reentry STG Unit

Arizona Department of Corrections, Rehabilitation & Reentry
Security Threat Group Unit
Mail Code 650
1645 West Jefferson Street
Phoenix, Arizona 85007
Tel. (602) 771-5600