Conversations Behind Razor Wire— Interviews with Incarcerated Gang Members

For its  book “GANGS”, filled with stories about the dangers of gang life, ARISE Foundation interviewed several incarcerated young gang members about their experiences.

As part of its mission to write life skills curricula that is authentic and realistic, ARISE founder Edmund Benson went to a juvenile correctional facility  and sat down with several young gang members in an effort to hear their stories and give them a chance to warn at-risk young people about the perils of gang life.

Teens may not listen to authority figures, but they do listen to each other. Firsthand stories of the constant fear, danger and violence of life inside a gang are a way to reach young people on the cusp of making the life-destroying decision to join a gang. Quotes from the interviewed gang members are included in ARISE Foundation’s  collection of stories about gangs, written by people from all over the country. Each story was handpicked to illustrate a critical point. Topics range from the disastrous effects gang life has on someone’s family members to how easy it is to lose your life to gang violence. The stories illustrate, using plaintive, stark language, how easy it is to get caught up in the endless cycle of revenge that gang members live in every day.

The three interviewed gang members spoke candidly about the actions that led them to their incarceration. One 17 year-old, who joined a gang at age 12, spoke of the constant nightmares that plague him.

“The worst part of being in a gang,” he said, “is every night when you go to bed, you see the faces of the people you hurt, and your friends that got killed. That’s the hardest part, the nightmares.”

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