A new program helps offenders walk away from gangs
Life in a gang is all that Brandon knew. Growing up on the streets of Dallas he joined a street gang at 13. Fast forward a decade later and he’s serving a prison sentence inside the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. Tired of life and his poor decisions, he has made up his mind to step away from the gang.
Making that decision easier is a new program within TDCJ. General Population Gang Renouncement and Disassociation (GP-GRAD) launched last month. It’s designed to give a documented gang member in the general population the opportunity to renounce their affiliation. This program is an extension of the successful Gang Renouncement and Disassociation (GRAD) program that began in August 2000 with administrative segregation offenders.
The unit Security Threat Group officer will verify an offender’s claim that he wants to renounce his gang affiliation and submits a recommendation to the Security Threat Group Management Office. Selected offenders are then transferred to the GP-GRAD at the Ellis unit where they participate in a six-month process and associated activities. Upon successful completion of the GP-GRAD, their file is updated indicating they are no longer considered an active gang member within the department.
“The department is committed to providing programming, such as GP-GRAD, which gives offenders pathways out of their previous lifestyle to advance towards leading a better life once released,” said Correctional Institutions Division Director Lorie Davis.
The first class of GP-GRAD began on August 28th with 20 offenders. They will graduate on February 12, 2018.
Less than 1% of the 5,043 offenders who have completed the GRAD program in the last seventeen years have returned to administrative segregation.