Currently there is no way of knowing how many gang members are in Maine State Prison. The prison doesn’t officially record what gangs exist in the system or which prisoners might be affiliated with them.
But based on what Maine Department of Corrections Security Director Gary LaPlante has seen, about 50 prisoners belong to gangs. Compared to other states, he said that’s not much — it’s about 6 percent of the prison population.
The identification system is being developed at a time when Maine is gaining gang members, according to the FBI.
According to the FBI’s 2011 Gang Threat Assessment, Maine has up to 4,000 gang members — all congregated in southern Maine. That’s up from zero in the FBI’s 2009 version of the same report.
Prison officials have heard that some inmates already affiliate with gangs.
“The Aryan Brotherhood is probably the dominant gang. White-supremacist type of gangs are more dominant in numbers in Maine,” LaPlante said. “We have a couple others, but people might not recognize them. Like, we have one called Tango Blast, a [gang] out of Texas.”
Within the entire corrections system in Maine, most major gangs make an appearance, according to LaPlante’s research. He has identified 12 gangs in the system. The rest of Maine has about nine major gangs, according to an FBI report.
But all of these numbers are just from observations. By the end of this year, LaPlante will have created a system to verify gang affiliations so the prison can classify men and create some sort of database. He figured each man must meet at least two criteria to be labeled as a gangster. Tattoos, self-identification and court records that link inmates to gangs might be criteria the corrections department would judge from.