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Hard times at Dartmouth jail Officers struggle with gang violence, even behind bars

Hard times at Dartmouth jail
Officers struggle with gang violence, even behind bars

Photo by Peter Pereira/The Standard-Times (File)
By Brian Fraga / The Standard-Times  |   Sunday, January 30, 2011  |  http://www.bostonherald.com  |  Local Coverage

DARTMOUTH — There is one place where rival gang members find themselves under the same roof, living a tenuous coexistence.

Jail.

“You have your Bloods, your Crips, Latin Kings, Gangster Disciples, your Asian gangs, all in here,” said Steven Souza, assistant superintendent of security, jail and detention at the Dartmouth House of Correction.

Gangs are a reality in just about any detention facility in the United States.

The Mass. Department of Corrections has identified 52 different gangs — also known as security threat groups — within the state prison system.

In Dartmouth, there are 203 confirmed gang members, representing about 14 percent of the overall population of 1,465 inmates, said Bristol County Sheriff Thomas M. Hodgson.

Since the facility instituted its Gang Intelligence Unit almost two years, more than 800 confirmed gang members have been processed at the Dartmouth House of Correction, Hodgson said.

“The gang issues we see in the streets, especially in urban areas, we see in our prisons,” Hodgson said.

The security staff screens all inmates and pre-trial detainees for gang affiliations. Correctional officers monitor gang members, but officials said those efforts are hindered by a manpower shortage and the fact that most of the facility’s cells are unlocked.

“The facility, with its modular units that don’t have toilets and sinks in the units, was designed by the state in the 1960. It’s not our decision to have non-locking cells,” Souza said.

Despite the security staff’s efforts, gang-related violence is inevitable. A week ago, at least two members of the Asian Boyz, a gang affiliated with the Crips, armed with a shank, stormed into an unlocked cell and tried to cut off a tattoo from a Blood gang member’s arm, officials said.

To read the rest of this story, go to www.southcoasttoday.com

Article URL: http://www.bostonherald.com/news/regional/view.bg?articleid=1313031

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