Law Enforcement Works to Curb Gang Activity in Jail
With nearly 200 gang members in Charlottesville and Albemarle County, law enforcement is working hard to curb their illegal activity - that includes inside the Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jail.
Gang activity in jails and prisons is a problem across the nation.
“A lot of the major gangs did tend to start in prisons. We are not aware of any that started here in this local jail but recruiting does go on in jail,” said Martin Kumer, deputy superintendent of the Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jail.
The regional jail takes a proactive approach to suppress and prevent gang activity. Corrections officers say the zero-tolerance policy is effective because gang-related incidents are going down.
Of the 420 inmates at the facility, about 25 percent show signs of being suspected or known gang members. And home-grown gang members have also gone national.
“Here you have your local gang Dirty South, G-Square, which is the same, 6NO. But they are also affiliated now with the Bloods: Gangster Killer Bloods, Nine Trey Gangsters or 9-Tek Grenades,” said Corporal Cindy Jo Harris.
Being in a gang is not illegal by itself. A proactive zero-tolerance policy is in place at the jail, meaning inmates who participate in or recruit for or operate gangs violate the policy. Violations include communications like hand signs, graffiti, or written messages of any sort.
“If we discover that you are continually participating in gang activity while you are here, we will limit your movement to the degree possible,” Kumer said.
Harris says the zero-tolerance policy is working to address the national problem in Charlottesville and Albemarle County.
“We've actually suppressed the gang activities so - knock on wood - we've been incident-free for a while,” she said.
Harris says that right now there is no state program to help gang members transition out of that way of life, but she is optimistic the community will take an interest soon.
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