Hate Crimes and Extremist Gangs.
In looking at the totality of Hate Crimes and Extremist Gangs by Gregg Etter, Ed.D., and George Knox, Ph.D., I believe it would be of limited value to those who work in corrections. The text provides general information on a wide range of extremist groups, which from a historical perspective might be interesting to some readers. However, for those who have to make decisions on how to deal with emergent groups in their facilities, the text is lacking. In addition, the material is taken primarily from previously published articles in the Journal of Gang Research.
Criminal justice is still in the fledgling period of its development among the social sciences and is striving for viability. One of the things that would provide added acceptance in the social science community would be for authors to use the recognized writing style of the field as presented in the American Psychological Association Publication Manual, 5th Edition. The many errors in style make this book less polished. These inconsistencies are especially apparent in how the authors provide references. In the chapters "Islamic Terrorists as Hate Groups" and "Gang Profile: The Brotherwoods: The Rise and Fall of a White-Supremacist Gang Inside a Kansas Prison" the authors do not provide references when necessary. Furthermore, in the chapters "Skinheads: A Three Nation Comparison" and "The Ku Klux Klan: Evolution Towards Revolution" the author provides references but not in APA style, as is used in the rest of the chapters.
Unfortunately, there are also errors in the content of the articles. One of the most glaring items is the misinformation provided in the section "Islamic Terrorists as Hate Groups." The authors identify Osama bin Laden's father as a small-time contractor, but a quick search on the Internet shows this is false. For example, Pearson Education's Information Please Web site (infoplease.com) says, "His father, Mohammed bin Laden, founded a construction company and with royal patronage became a billionaire. The company's connections won it such important commissions as rebuilding mosques in the holy cities of Mecca and Medina." The authors also provide a Foreign Terrorist Organizations list that notes organizations with connections to extremist Islamic groups and individuals. This list, which does not match the information on the official list published by the U.S. State Department, has several errors and notes some unproven connections to Islamic extremists.
Another interesting discrepancy comes in the chapter "The Melanics: a Gang Profile Analysis," which mentions numerous incidents of violence inside the Michigan Department of Corrections by members of the Melanic Islamic Palace of the Rising Sun (MIPRS) that resulted in the deaths of other inmates and correctional officers. However, the text does not provide any information on inmates killed by the group, and the only description of an attack on correctional staff does not indicate any officers killed. A check of the Law Enforcement Memorial information for the Michigan Department of Corrections indicates no officers killed by the Melanics group. The authors cannot provide inaccurate or incomplete information and expect readers to accept it without question.
In part of the text, the authors provide two distinct pieces of information on the same group. In "Skinhead: Manifestations of the Warrior Culture of the New Urban Tribes" the author says, "Not being as cohesive a group as some of their minority brethren, captured skinheads will often turn state witness for law enforcement officials." A scant 12 pages later, the article "Skinheads: A three Nation Comparison," notes: "Skinheads are loyal to the working class ethic and become loyal to one another out of a shared working class consciousness. This cohesion makes it difficult for police to try to break down a wall of silence when combating skinhead hate crimes." In other instances, the reader experiences deja vu in the text. At least three separate times, the authors repeat the same information verbatim.
A few reports included in the book provide examples of gang studies that have been conducted. However, much of the data is outdated and not enough information is provided to a reader who may want to replicate the study. In addition, the methodologies described are confusing, and in some, the sample sizes are too small or are not provided, making it imposible to draw accurate conclusions. The studies also provide information on chi-square tests, which may be inappropriate for the common readership.
The positive side of this text is that it provides insight into how weaker inmates might band together and, through strength in numbers, become a security threat group. The text also shows that groups can use the current legislative and judicial standing of religion to gain protection for their activities. The book reminds administrators that line staff are the first to be aware of problems, and it provides administrators with proactive approaches to dealing with security threat groups. Administrators can learn from the book which gangs are operating in correctional facilities and the types and number of incidents in various geographical areas.
In conclusion, this book provides a basic background of gangs and security threat groups. Unfortunately, it has many flaws, including inaccurate and incomplete information, lack of sources for the data presented, repetition of the same information, and data that is not complete enough to be considered valid.
Reviewed by William L. Adkins, a federal police officer with the Department of Veterans Affairs and former corrections counselor with the Kansas Department of Corrections.