David C. Pyrooz: Blood in, blood out? Methods and motives for leaving gangs in prison

Wednesday, September 26, 2018 - 12:00pm

395 McNeil Building, 3718 Locust Walk
Open to the Public

How and why do people transition away from groups, identities, and roles that matter to them and bring meaning to their lives? This question has long captured the interests of psychologists and sociologists. More recently, due to increased theoretical and empirical attention to criminal desistance, the evolution of social convoys and life-course transitions have taken on greater significance among criminologists. This presentation will focus on leaving groups—gangs—that are believed to require a lifetime commitment in an environment—prison—that is hostile to uncomplicated exit processes. Qualitative and quantitative data from the LoneStar Project, or the Texas Study of Trajectories, Association, and Reentry, are used to examine how and why inmates leave gangs in prison. Methods and motives for leaving are contrasted by a typology of gang types that account for gang organization (i.e., security threat group vs. clique), context of influence (i.e., street, prison, or both settings), and race/ethnicity (i.e., black, Latino, and white gangs). Preliminary evidence is also provided on the efficacy of a gang renouncement program. With nearly 200,000 inmates, around 15% of the U.S. prison population, affiliated with gangs, efforts to promote disengagement from gangs could have widespread benefits for institutional corrections and prisoner reentry.
About the Speaker
David C. Pyrooz, PhD, is Assistant Professor of Sociology and Faculty Associate of Problem Behavior and Positive Youth Development at the Institute of Behavioral Science at the University of Colorado Boulder. He received his Ph.D. in Criminology and Criminal Justice from Arizona State University, where he was a Graduate Research Fellow of the National Institute of Justice. His research interests are in the areas gangs and criminal networks, incarceration and reentry, developmental and life-course criminology, and criminal justice policy and practice. He was the recipient of the inaugural New Scholar Award from the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences in 2015 and Ruth Shonle Cavan Young Scholar Award from the American Society of Criminology in 2016. He is the Co-PI on the NIJ-funded Texas Study of Trajectories, Associations, and Reentry (the LoneStar Project), a multi-wave study of 802 inmates transitioning from prison to the community.